Are you pressed for time? Are you working at an increasingly frenetic pace? Do you feel “frenzied, fatigued and malcontent” (Acker & Armenti, 2004)? Do you laugh maniacally when people ask you about your work-life balance? Is your academic success measured by busyness, productivity, efficiency?
You are not alone, and it is not your fault. But there is something you can do. Slow down. That is the counter-intuitive message of this blog for all the frazzled academics out there.
This blog gives space and time to slow academia. Here is where to start:
- A year in first lines – a summary post ideal for new or occasional readers
- Why slow? – on things that matter more than work
- Slow privilege – sometimes slow sucks
- Ants – a model for slow academia
I want to bring together a growing body of writing and resources, and to reflect on the lived experience of slow academia. A good place to start is the wonderful For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University (Mountz et al, 2015):
The stupefying modern obsession with productivity denies the whimsy and the freedom that living fully demands. We must dare to relax our grip on time for a day, or even for an hour, throwing clocks, watches and iPhones over the housetops, untethering ourselves solely for the thrill of not knowing what happens next…
Mountz and her colleagues came up with a list of ten strategies for slowing down. Following their lead, this blog will record my experiments with these strategies (as well as others I come across or discover through experience):
- Talk about and support slow strategies.
- Count what others don’t.
- Take care … we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. But we must take care of others.
- Write fewer e-mails.
- Turn off email.
- Make time to think.
- Make time to write (differently) … what we say and how we say it matters.
- Say no. Say yes.
- Reach for the minimum (i.e. good enough is the new perfect) … [it] allows for a focus on quality – rather than quantity – and acknowledges the need for balance.
In the meantime, take inspiration from this video in which David Attenborough compares his day with that of a sloth (“Leaves are not easily digested; the sloth’s technique is to give them time”):