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March 03, 2006

Anyone got a 48 hour day and fourteen day week?

Having spent the last two weeks "on leave" - using up the leave I could not get to take during the last working year - I am returning to work on Monday with the distinct impression that I might as well have stayed in the office and just shut the door! There have been daily phone calls and e-mails, there is also the stuff I brought home with me because I thought I might get it done at home, and then there is the stuff I wanted time out to do for myself.

Well, I haven't actually achieved most of it.

The problem at work is that there are too few of us to do far too much. For example, those at my level in the department I am part of once numbered seventeen. Then we were reduced to eight, then five, now I am the only one in uniform and there is one other "manager" who allocates the course tutoring for all of us. The trouble is that my role is to teach, to develop new courses in my specialisms, write the course documents, research and write the student materials and to attend meetings, special interest groups, project boards and considerably more activities than I will bore you with here. All of us are under tremendous pressure and there is simply no one any of us can "delegate" any of our work too. Ergo, we do it ourselves or it simply doesn't get done.

Now it may seem to you that when you are allocated to teach a course all you have to do is turn up for your class and teach. You'd be wrong, since each course is different and each class has different levels of expertise, prior knowledge and ability, so it takes quite a bit of preparation. On top of that we are required to do the course admin once the course is booked to run. That involves a considerable amount of pre-course paper shuffling so that our "support" staff ca do some more shuffling and not provide the things we haven't filled in the right bit of paper for. That in itself means that more and more tutors simply ignore the "support" side where they can and make sure that they have everything they need themselves even if it means working outside of teaching times (like evenings and weekends) to get everything we need together! No wonder we are frustrated, angry and doing our damndest to keep the lid on the a growing overpressure in our collective boilers!

The Management argue that we are simply being "difficult", that our "Associate Tutors" can be hired in to assist - but these staff members (part timers) are NOT available to do the development, the papwer chasing and the preparation of notes etcetera! Their time is simply too expensive!

Well, this couple of weeks has actually helped me to focus on something quite important. I need to have some time in the day for "me". So, a little later this year, I will be looking very seriously at moving on in my career, and no, I won't be moving to something that makes me work even longer hours, it will include time for the things that give me pleasure and which make my life fun to live. In fact, I plan to start looking around quite soon, but in the meantime, I also plan to simply start saying "no" a bit more frequently.

It might make a difference to my workload, it will certainly make a difference to my quality of life.

Posted by The Gray Monk at March 3, 2006 08:13 AM

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On your blog entry for May 31st 2005 concerning Lottery funding


In reference to a Lifeboat station being turned down for a grant you say :-

Their grant was refused. Reason? "It will not serve to promote ethnic minority issues, asylum seekers rights or those of other under represented groups."

This has caused an argument in my office.

I wonder if you could please give the source for this quote ?



Posted by: Simon Street at March 3, 2006 03:45 PM