How to be an academic without working 60 hours a week | Lucy Foulkes

A Twitter argument about how many hours academics should work prompted Lucy Foulkes to seek out advice for early career researchers

Last week a tweet about academics’ working hours went viral:

I tell my graduate students and post-docs that if they’re working 60 hours per week, they’re working less than the full professors, and less than their peers. https://t.co/mapWtvmBWp

I had to be a bit flexible when my kids were little … but I tried really hard not to change the number of hours I worked in a typical day.
Jenni Rodd, reader in experimental psychology, UCL

If something really important has to be finished, I occasionally work a few hours on the weekend or evenings (less than once a week).

I use my online calendar to schedule out my time, I make sure I blank out time for thinking and writing (often the first things that can disappear from your planning) and I protect that time fiercely. I try to load all my meetings into a few days a week so that I have better windows for analysis and writing.
Victoria Simms, lecturer in psychology, Ulster University

I put a timer on Google that beeps after 40 minutes (or a timer on your phone). I then only allow myself to focus on that one single task for the entire 40 minutes….I do not let myself open other windows than the one I’m working on, even if it’s to check a reference- I make a note to do it at another time in the current document.
Charlotte Brand, postdoc in human behaviour and evolution, University of Exeter

If I have promised to be home for bedtime stories at seven, then that really focuses the mind when there are tasks that need to be finished (and there always are).

A long-hours culture excludes everyone with caring responsibilities, illnesses, and disabilities, which could be any one of us at any time during our lives.

Having a happy, relatively secure time in academia whilst working the kind of hours that allow for a healthy work-life balance is clearly possible, because there are lots of us that do just that.
Elli Leadbetter, reader in biological sciences, Royal Holloway

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