Enjoy your work!

Enjoy Your Accomplishments

Put yourself on the back when you complete a task, clear off your desk, or accomplish something significant. Take a minute to relax and enjoy the pleasant feelings you deserve. You might even reward yourself with a short break, walk, or visit to a colleague. Another idea is to develop specific short and long­term goals for the things you want to accomplish in your career and life.


Enjoy your work!

Enjoy Your Accomplishments

Put yourself on the back when you complete a task, clear off your desk, or accomplish something significant. Take a minute to relax and enjoy the pleasant feelings you deserve. You might even reward yourself with a short break, walk, or visit to a colleague. Another idea is to develop specific short and long­term goals for the things you want to accomplish in your career and life.

Get Away From It All

Set aside time for light reading, a play, movie, concert, sports, or hobby. A vacation or just a short drive can give you a change of environment and some relaxation. Even an occasional walk around campus can clear your mind. Some people recommend REAL leisure, finding time to do absolutely NOTHING.

Spend More Time With People

Create a network of people with similar teaching or research interests, or with whom you simply enjoy spending time. Having someone to talk with, to discuss your common interests has a variety of benefits, including access to new ideas and useful advice, evaluation of your own work and plans, and an opportunity to relax and escape the normal routine. Schedule in time to see friends more often — perhaps a weekly lunch. Make it a point to get to know new faculty in and outside of your department.

Improve Your Work Environment

Minimize clutter. A disorganized or cluttered work environment makes tasks appear more numerous and add to the difficulty of doing them efficiently. While some of the following may not seem worth the time, remember that we are looking for long-term efficiency, not an immediate solution for the problem du jour.

   Clean out your office;

   Clean off your desk at the end of each day;

   Get small things off your to-do list ASAP (as soon as possible);

   Do the most unpleasant task on your to-do list first;

   Do not procrastinate (procrastinate — delay annoyingly);

   Concentrate on whatever you are doing — do not multi­task;

   Empty the trash can and remove ancient files from your computer;

   Look at e­mail once or twice a day;

   Take time to do it right;

   Plan ahead. Look to see what is coming on your calendar and in your classes for the next week or two and avoid the rush to get tasks done at the last minute.

Say “NO” More Often

Academics get many requests to serve on committees, advise independent study projects in areas where they have little interest, and attend social functions. An unattainable, ideal approach would be to try to do only things you like to do. Failing that, you can at least try to decrease the number of activities in which you really do not want to be involved.

Enhance Your Classroom

Spend some time and a little money to make the place more pleasant. A small stereo, soft lighting from a new lamp, a nice rug, and picturesque painting can make your classroom much more pleasant, and more welcoming for students.

Hire Student Help

As you probably recall with painful clarity, students often work for minimum wage. If you can manage it, hire a student a few hours a week to do filing, organizing, or run errands to free up your time for more important tasks.

Minimize Negative Experiences

Avoid negative people. Avoid constant contact with the discontented. Recreational griper may have entertainment value, but they keep your attention focused on the negative side of life and the negative interpretation of every event. Likewise, minimize contact with people who annoy you. Life is too short to endure this form of water torture.

Learn How the System Works

When they need to interact with the dark side of the force (administration), many teachers drown in the resulting red tape. The next time you need to wade into this swamp ask a wise old head for advice on how to proceed effectively and efficiently.

Over time, if you take some of this advice and get around the campus a bit more, you will become familiar with the system, and save a lot of time and annoyance. Learning how the system works is not a waste of time.

Save Your Silver Bullets

There are things that might be changed with varying degrees of effort. Pick your battles, and spend time only on important issues. Charging every windmill in sight will take a lot of time and emotional energy, generate stress and unhappiness, and undermine your credibility when you have a legitimate complaint.

Do Not Worry About Things You Cannot Change

There are occasional irritations in academic life (believe it or not), and dwelling on these major or minor stupidities will not improve your mental health. If you cannot change something, staying annoyed is not a good solution.

Do not try to solve every problem yourself; call attention to it and if nothing happens, move on. Some things simply have to be endured, ideally with a good dose of humor, bemusement, or sarcasm. Remember that administrators and rules come and go, this, too, shall pass — in the fullness of time.

Conclusion

Don’t just sit there — take more control of your academic life and your surroundings, and make your life and work more satisfying. There is nothing better than a job you like doing. Most teachers got into teaching because they loved it. Do what it takes to keep it that way, and make the remaining years of your professional life as satisfying as they can be.

References and Recommended Readings

        Baker, E. K. (2004). Caring for ourselves as psychologists. Retrieved September 21, 2004, from http://www.e­psychologist.org/module1.pdf

        Bernstein, D. A. (2005). Was it good for you, too?: Keeping teaching exciting for us and for them. In B. Perlman, L. I. McCann, & W. Buskist. (Eds.), Voices of experience: Memorable talks from the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology. (pp. 111­118). Washington, DC: American Psychological Society.

        Lloyd, M. A. (1999). As time goes by: Maintaining vitality in the classroom. In B. Perlman, L. I. McCann, & S. H. McFadden, (Eds.), Lessons Learned: Practical advice for the teaching of psychology. (pp. 7­10). Washington, DC: American Psychological Society.

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