This week, Charlotte Dann, a Lecturer in Psychology and the University of Northampton lets us peek into her planning schedule…
Current position: Lecturer in Psychology (social and developmental), full time permanent at University of Northampton. You can find out more about me at my website! charlottedannacademic.co.uk
How much research time is built into my job: I am very passionate about work/life ‘balance’, and apply this to all areas of my life, as with my research – I use about a day of research time per week (dependent on whether marking is due!)
If the next REF were held tomorrow, I would: Be thinking about the next REF – I have my three-year plan that I’m working on for REF 2021, and of course have longer term goals in the back of my head. Currently, my plan is to publish 2 papers from my PhD thesis per year for the next few years, with other projects running alongside this.
I work on: My own research is focused on womens’ tattooed bodies. I explored the nuanced ways that women simultaneously resist and conform to ideal representations of femininities, with their tattoos acting as one intersection amongst many. I’m also working on a project focusing on ‘sharenting’ (definition: the habitual use of social media to share images, news and other such information about one’s children) with some colleagues from The Open University and Bradford and have an internally funded project at the University of Northampton exploring diversity within the psychology curriculum using innovative assessments.
Tools I use to plan my research: Whilst I am a huge stationery fan, and a lover of the Bullet Journal, I’ve recently converted to an all digital planning method. I’ve been using this on and off for a few years, with some notebooks in-between, but have finally settled on these as the most important (and efficient) for me (no affiliations here, just pure love!):
My approach to planning/planning philosophy is: Fail to plan, you plan to fail. Whilst I’ve spent a good amount of time procrastination planning (you know, spending a lovely amount of time with notepads and mind-maps and colouring, but not getting anything done!), if I don’t plan at all, then I won’t get anything done.
My routine is: I set up my week far in advance (I usually plan 1-3 months ahead, putting in all events, meetings, teaching etc, and add as necessary), and block out time for research/tasks around my fixed commitments (i.e. teaching). We can share our calendars with colleagues at work, so I update mine so they can see when I’m working on research (usually, I block out Mondays for this). Regardless of the task I’m working on, I set my pomodoros (you can read about this technique here) for 25 minutes, and work like this for the entire day (or schedule session). I cannot work without pomodoros – this keeps my focused, with breaks scheduled so I can play Animal Crossing or make a coffee for 5 minutes without guilt!
I think I am: super organised. I balance two jobs, multiple roles within and outside of those roles, as well as do things I enjoy that I plan my week around (i.e. music classes and socialising). The techniques that I use are things that I’ve tried and tested for years – you just have to find what works for you.
I would like to improve my… levels of procrastination. This is my worse trait! I’ve recently learned about something called ‘strategic procrastination’, whereby you complete another task (less painful than the one you’re putting off), so at least you’re still getting something done. It works to a point, and I like the concept (I’m sure I’m not the only person who has a super clean house when an important deadline is looming!)
My best piece of planning advice is: ALWAYS over-budget the time you think a task will take. For example - if I think that lecturer preparation is going to take an hour, I will give myself about an hour and half (there is a really great post you can use to work out what’s best for you from Steve Pavlina). Since I started doing this for everything, I haven’t struggled with deadlines. Of course, life happens, but you can plan for that - doing things like this helps mediate it. Think about following doctor’s surgery example too - they will leave a couple of gaps in the day in-between appointments in case they run over, so they’re not struggling by the end of the day. I also do this - even if it means time to grab a coffee, or just chat with a colleague, or see a student off the cuff. It has been the biggest help by far.