Sunday, July 20, 2008

Service and productivity

After getting all energized by Dr. Brazen Hussy's post on productivity, I broke my IHE fast when I went to Planned Obsolescence and read what she had to say about the article on service expectations for women in academe: "Women, often socialized to prioritize responsibility for the functioning of groups over the demands of personal projects, are far more likely than men to find their research agendas derailed by administrative responsibilities."

These two are more connected than you'd think. The whole David Allen GTD idea is really attractive in a lot of ways, and reading about how it has worked for Dr. Brazen Hussy makes me want to try again. (If GTD was a religion, I'd be the backslider promising that this time I really want to be saved.) On the other hand, what Planned Obsolescence and the IHE piece say is something we already know: if you're an administrator, your time is not your own, since you can't anticipate what is coming through the door or into your inbox. If you're still following the religion metaphor: GTD says your time--your salvation--is your own; it's up to you to get with the program. Administration (in the IHE's take) says your time is not your own, and your salvation can only be achieved through service to others. To be fair, these are two entirely different things, yet both are ways to measure out a scarce commodity: time.

Some people can do both; they're very productive but have administrative responsibilities. I know people who are perfectly cordial, yet they manage their time so well that I have never had a conversation with them that was not in the furtherance of one or another of their research or service agenda.

 This also makes me think of listservs that I've been on for a long time where the gods of the profession--those senior scholar names invoked by the regular posters--never post about anything unless they have a research project that they need some responses for or a new book that they're promoting. They use the listserv, but they don't contribute to it, preferring to reserve their ideas for publication.

Is this collegial? I don't know. Is it efficient? Very definitely.


dannielo said...

For implementing GTD you might try out this new web-based application:

You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version and iCal are available too.

Hope you like it.

Jason said...

I think that GTD really is pitched at managers/CEO types, who have similar constraints as higher-ed administrators.

The way it's usually talked about online tends to emphasize "your time is your own," but the book seems more realistic.

(Though I'm also a terrible backslider, yearning for revival-time.)

undine said...

Good point, jason. I've skimmed the book but have gotten a lot more of the GTD preaching from 43folders and other sites.