When it became clear that I wasn’t imminently graduating and moving on to the full-time academic life I had been thinking about, it became clear that I needed to deal with my current career in the meantime. This week, that path was decided.
My boss asked me to take on project management tasks for all of the projects in my department. That means less directly technical work on DOING the projects, more paperwork, politics and involvement with what everyone else is doing. I accepted.
I was really torn on this one. I mean, I am nearly a prototypical INTJ. On the one hand part of what I like about academic work and my prior work is that I worked primarily on my own, succeeding or failing on my own as well. I like that. I like being responsible for myself and getting credit for my accomplishments. When the description said “they are more comfortable working alone than with other people” it was spot on.
On the other hand, however, “they are prepared to take the lead if nobody else is up to the
task, or they see a major weakness in the current leadership”. This is precisely what happened. Our director isn’t good at resource management and as a result the team was getting swamped as no-one paid attention to not just how many resources were needed to get the work done but specifically WHAT resources were need. He’s been giving out estimates for how long things will take that show no real connection with the work any longer. In this role those jobs will be mine.
There was some discussion of hiring an outside person for this, but the fact is that the level of knowledge of the team, our skills, the organization, the people, our customers and our methods that the person would have had to gain quickly was too high; a lesson we’ve learned lately with some contract PMs brought in who are driving people nuts. Instead my technical role will be backfilled.
What does this have to do with my life as a scholar? Three things.
- The change in role will force me back to a more rigid application of GTD and other productivity tools. I will be juggling the management of 5-10 projects at different stages, so organization will be key. And I don’t think that would be a bad thing for my academic work.
- I have an opportunity to adjunct teach a class starting this fall on Program Evaluation. Project management and Program Evaluation have huge areas of crossover that I think will let me do a better job teaching that class.
- My work will be somewhat more stressful and scattered. This means I will have to work a bit harder to keep my focus when working on my academic work.
In preparation for these changes I am beginning to reimplement GTD for my academic work. One of my tasks for this weekend is to put my Tasks for the classes this summer into Remember the Milk so that I can track them and see them within Gmail. (I’m not convinced that any electronic list manager is better than any other, but RTM has features (such as its integration with Gmail and its blackberry interface) that make it more convenient for me to use. Now if it just had a bulk excel/text file loader….)
I also just heavily trimmed my google reader subscriptions. I will trim more over the next couple of weeks. I got rid of stuff I had a tendency to just mark as read because I couldn’t keep up, things I didn’t really care about, and (to focus for dissertation) a bunch of education feeds unrelated to my specific dissertation topic.
My other recent change was signing on with a trainer 3 days per week to force me to get my butt back to the gym. I struggle, because there are so many other things that need to be done, but if I DON’T get there my weight will just keep climbing and that will eventually impact my health. That needs to be a priority. I also scheduled it for 5:30pm, forcing me to leave work at a reasonable time on those days. Since I have things like 7pm conference calls with Indonesia once a week, it should net out just fine.
The last change I need to make to get this all working is one I have stuggled with for some time. Getting up at a consistant time, 7 days per week, earlier. Now, for me, earlier means 7am. I have a REALLY hard time doing it. But I need to make that change to keep everything going forward. I guess I’m just going to have to be a b*tch for a few weekends until it becomes an ingrained habit. Meh.