Saturday, September 8, 2012

Work Less, Worry Less, Accomplish More?

That is my hope. I have started experimenting with approaches for coping with an undesirable and unintended consequence of my deliberate choice to become a more thoroughly interdisciplinary scholar: a reduction in scholarly productivity.

When I moved from Indy to Bloomington in  summer 2011, I chose to take on teaching and service obligations in three different units of the University  - the Maurer Law School, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), and the Ostrom Workshop - knowing that they would take more of my time and energy. I did not at the time realize, however, just how much time and energy they would consume. I have felt increasingly spread thin and stressed out. Without question my scholarly productivity has suffered, even as I've taken on board more research projects.

So, this is the problem to be solved: how to regain a higher (though not necessarily my prior) level of scholarly output while coping better with my various academic obligations across campus. I have devised a strategy comprising three elements: (a) improve the organization of my class preps, committee meetings and other administrative responsibilities, conference presentations, and research and writing; (b) condense work into shorter but more focused intervals; and (c) build in more time (not less) for rest and relaxation (including more time on the bike and more time with my family) to reduce my overall stress level and rebuild energy for those more focused work sessions.

How confident am I that this strategy will solve the problem? I can't really say. It's an experiment, the success or failure of which will be measured along two, equally-weighted dimensions: (1) my overall productivity; and (2) my overall sense of well-being (e.g., reduced stress and increased happiness). Instead of burning the candle at both ends and feeling like I'm not getting enough done, I hope (perhaps vainly) that I can burn it at neither end and get more done.

I'll let you know what I discover (although it might be a while before I have a sense of how it's going).


  1. Hi, Dan! Good luck with your strategy. I think of you often and hope to see you again one of these days (providing, of course, you remember me)!
    Deborah Nolan

  2. Thanks Deborah, I appreciate it (and do, of course, remember you).



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