You are not too busy, just disorganized

Let us face it: We do not work in optimal work conditions. The ones of us who work in the US or in a US-similar system are always under pressure in order to find a job (whatsoever), then to find a tenured-track position, then to have their tenure confirmed and then to have enough articles per year. The ones of us who work in Europe or in a Europe-similar system are constantly precarious, spend their lives applying for projects and have to overcommit to many projects in order to survive.

Nor there is hope for the future: Today in the morning I heard at the news that only 1% (sic!) of the Italian researchers will sooner or later achieve a permanent position in an Italian university.
Such being the case and beside fighting for better conditions for researchers, one just needs to learn to do research nonetheless. How? By applying the basic rules of managers and other over-busy people (schedule, organise, delegate —an example of the latter activity can be found here—…). No matter how little we like this to become part of our daily routine, if we do not, we are just deemed to fail. We do not have the freedom to spend years on a single article, with no other commitment apart from the one to research and to the search for truth. Nor do we have the freedom to ignore that things have changed, unless we are ready to be unemployed.

Of course, one can try to commit to as little things as possible, learn to say “no” to most offers and focus on only a few things. This is a risky way (one never knows whether one will keep on receiving invitations and offers), but a fair one, I believe. No one pretends from us that we organise conferences, panels, apply for gigantic projects, edit proceedings, write an article per month and so on.

However, if we want to keep on organising conferences, writing articles, teaching, researching, etc., we are not allowed to throw our organisation problems onto our colleagues. Many years back, I submitted an article to an edited volume reserved for early career scholars. One can easily imagine that these people really need their articles to be published. Nonetheless, the book has been published only five years after the conference. And we all know many other cases of this kind. This is just unfair.

We are all in the same situation (a small boat in a wavy ocean) and it is just unfair to pretend from your colleagues to be patient or even to solve the problems we have created. Thus, please don’t call your co-organiser telling her (usually women tend to be more vulnerable to this behaviour) that you are overbusy and she needs to do more than her half: WE ARE ALL OVERBUSY and unless you are the single parent of five disabled children, you are very likely not to be busier than anyone else. You are just disorganised. Either you stop committing to too many things or you start being better organised. But you are not allowed to tell other people that they have to wait or to solve your problems.

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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