Dealing with Multiple Spinning Plates

Multi-tasking just became part of my daily life

Nobody ever told me or prepared me for just how much juggling was needed to thrive in academia. From teaching classes, to completing my degree, to doing my own research, to being an RA, to completing my roles in academic societies, to marking assignments, to attending meetings, oh and lets not forget emails, just to name a few. It was never like that when I started out, but as time moved on and my list of responsibilities grew, so too did the number of plates I had to spin all at once; multi-tasking just became part of my daily life

Tips for Multi-tasking

This section is not to say that I am the best multi-tasker, but to share some of the things that I have tried, including those that work for me. I was at a conference recently that had a workshop on resiliency in academia. One of the activities was brainstorming ways people manage this need for multi-tasking. As you would guess, what worked for some individuals did not work for all. So experimentation is key!

  1. Micro-manage yourself: This is what works for me. My schedule is broken down into specific time allocations for specific tasks. Once the time is up, I move on. At first this was hard. What happens when you’re in the zone for writing and the time is up? Do you waste that precious writing zone space? No, you capitalise on that and feed it into the next activity.
  2. Dedicate days to specific tasks: Have a teaching day or a meeting day. Personally, I have days dedicated to student supervision. All my supervision happens on those days only.
  3. Overestimate the time it will take to complete a task: Plan to be disrupted, plan for things to come up, plan to need to shift your attention every now and again.
  4. Take regular breaks: Chunking up time is a common way people manage multi-tasking. From coffee breaks between activities to full meditation sessions. Having a relaxing task between tasks can serve as a full stop for the last activity and a fresh new paragraph for the next activity.
  5. Lists: Who doesn’t like a good list? This post is a key example of that! Daily to-do lists and diary entries are also a common way of keeping track of what is needed each day.

What other tips or strategies do you use to keep all those plates spinning?

~ Chris

2 thoughts on “Dealing with Multiple Spinning Plates

  1. Cheers for sharing, Chris!

    I find having a kanban board of things to do, things I am doing and completed tasks very helpful for my day-to-day plus weekly organisation. (I find Notion great for this.)

    Like

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