I love the movement of this chapter. It starts with the startling assertions that more faculty report the feeling that they can't get everything done no matter how hard they work than CEOs. More faculty feel physically or emotionally exhausted at the end of the day than CEOs.
A key quote to me (among many -- I have 4-1/2 pages of notes, mostly quotes I wanted to spend more time with):
The fact that we need to give ourselves permission to eat, bathe, and pay bills reflects our loss of balance in the current university climate. The time crunch is not just a personal issue. It is detrimental to intellectual work, interfering with our ability to think critically and creatively. (17)
Berg and Seeber do a great job of going through some representative academic self-help literature and calling out some of the key assumptions behind their time management advice. (One that I had read was Donald Hall's Academic Self, but though I had admired the way he called for academics to have credos or purpose statements, his time management never worked for me.) Berg and Seeber ask "Is academic time really as 'subdividable, regular, and predictable' as Hall posits?" (24) (to which I want to scream no way. Not only is academic time not regular and predictable, but I am not regular or predictable! And these relentless time management systems seem to assume people are not moody or emotional or that their days are more regular than mine at least are. If the point of the time management systems is to get intellectual work done, my moods and emotions are going to be relevant. But I can't turn on a dime because it's 11:30 and a month ago I thought it would be a good idea if I'd work on my scholarship now. Go! But that's not Berg and Seeber's point here.)
It turns out that "[r]esearch show that periods of escape from time are actually essential to deep thought, creativity, and problem solving" (26). We need timeless time or timelessness; this "flow" or "engrossment" not only makes us more effective at our intellectual work, it makes us happier. "The major obstacle to creative and original thinking . . . is the stress of having too much to do" (28). (Oh how well I know this.)
The following quote I'm pretty sure I need to see in front of my face on a regular basis:
We need, then, to protect a time and a place for timeless time, and to remind ourselves continually that this is not self-indulgent but rather crucial to intellectual work. If we don't find timeless time, there is evidence that not only our work but our brains will suffer. (28)
I may put that one on my office door. The rest of the chapter offers some concrete suggestions about how we can champion timeless time:
1. Get offline.
2. Do less.
3. Create/schedule (?) regular sessions of timeless time. (Berg and Seeber have five components here that are worth exploring. Anyone?)
4. Give self regular timeouts. (Kindness to self with radiate out to others.)
5. Change the way we talk about time all the time.
So what were your reactions to this chapters and its assertions about time management versus timelessness or timeless time? Am I the only one who sees a relationship between timelessness and mindfulness and maybe even the current craze for meditation? If you are, as I am, hooked already by Berg and Seeber's arguments, then how do people at your institution talk about or regard time and how could you resist that by proposing a counter-example? How could you be a slow-er professor? What would each of Berg and Seeber's suggestions look like for you? Is it worth it to try one suggestion out this week even?
What do you think, y'all?