My latest at ProfHacker: Managing Expectations

Dog on roof, asking how we manage expectationsFinding appropriate work-life balance seems to be a never-ending quest in many lines of work, and academia is no exception. It’s all too easy to work far too late into the evening, grading, preparing classes, or (everyone’s favorite!) answering email.

This year, I’ve been reminded of just how important it is to manage both my own and other’s expectations about communications and working hours if I’m to have a hope of attaining something at least resembling balance. There are a few practices I’ve implemented that have proven helpful.

First, I set limits to the degree that email checks me. I don’t check work email on Sundays, and only sporadically to on Saturdays — and I communicate this policy as needed, so no one thinks I’m ignoring a message if I don’t respond immediately. I also make an effort to avoid checking email after suppertime, if it can be avoided. Using quiet hours on my phone helps in sticking to this policy; I simply don’t receive audible alerts after a particular time each evening.

Since I don’t like to deal with work email after hours or on weekends, I also try to avoid sending mail to my colleagues at those times. On occasion I find myself composing an email in the evening or on a weekend so I don’t forget something important by putting it off, but I don’t send it; I schedule it to be sent during regular working hours. (I’ve looked at Boomerang in the past, but I’m currently using RightInbox.) I don’t expect a response over the weekend, after all, so there’s no real reason for me to send my message before Monday morning.

Finally, I’ve stopped expecting myself to work too late into the evening. I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping work ninety minutes to an hour before I plan to go to bed, so I can do some leisure reading. The practice both given me the time to discover some great books that are new to me (as well as to re-read some old favorites). It’s also helped me to fall asleep more easily; when I work too close to bedtime, I’m more restless.

These simple practices have helped me be a bit more relaxed than I might otherwise have been this academic year. What strategies work well for you?

Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Ron Mader

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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