Busyness vs. Productivity

Last week, at the Beyond Balance conference, in his closing keynote Oliver Burkeman argued Against Productivity.

He started off framing his views around the popular idea of limitless in time and positive thinking, according to which we can do anything. And as a result, we worship busyness (quoting Tim Kreider’s busy trap), which we can only keep up with if we fail at it. How? Take that email you received last week, and still have not replied to. You know it’s there, you know you should have done something about it, but actually, realistically speaking, your colleague has already emailed someone else to ask for their help, so, yes you failed at replying, but actually you can cross it off the list. Done.

And why are we so busy? Continue reading “Busyness vs. Productivity”

Leadership: the importance of talking about failure

There was a CV going around social media and the press posted by a tired academic who wanted to expose just how much our culture is based on success and competition. It was eye opening… As a fairly young academic myself, it was encouraging to read and know that others have bad days too. About a month ago, I was talking to a colleague I look up to and found out that behind her successes there were rejected papers. I had no idea. In academia, it is common to celebrate successes, and perhaps brag about them too, but it is also common to complain about reviewer 2, the biased editor, or the tardiness with which a paper is handled. There’s a good summary of typical academics and how to handle them here. Being a woman in STEM it can be considered even more important to just show off the best results and just how successful one is, to compete against gender bias. So when I attended the event “Women in Leadership” organised by UCL PALS Athena Swan I was expecting an empowering talk on how to stand up against men and show off our best traits. I have never been so wrong. Continue reading “Leadership: the importance of talking about failure”