Dear SPS Faculty,
Balance is the first word that comes to mind in writing this blog. It often feels as though I am eternally searching for this in my professional life. There are many responsibilities I have, probably similar to all of you. It is easy to be pulled in many different directions, especially at the start of the new school year. I do not mind working on several initiatives at once, in fact I thrive on it and maybe that is some of where the challenge is. However, I feel it is my ethical responsibility to show up well and make my fair share of contributions to whatever I am committed to doing.
One way of trying to make sense of the workload is to think about the different stakeholder groups to whom I am accountable. As I think through the groups I realize they are not mutually exclusive and that there are points of overlap. After all this is an open system and engagement with one stakeholder group is linked to other stakeholders.
Since this is a university and teaching is one primary responsibility, then students are a prime stakeholder. I am responsible for providing a robust learning experience for them. Another stakeholder group are colleagues. There are committees we serve on together for governance, faculty reviews, search committees, joint research projects, panels and other events.
A third stakeholder group is the school. There are activities of service I need to fulfill so that the overall school is supported and thriving. And the university, which involves my work with colleagues and students from other schools on research projects, workshops and other educational activities.
Beyond the university are the various professional activities, such as research, writing, conferences, workshops and more. In all of these situations I ask myself if I am delivering value, am I enhancing their learning experiences, am I available to them in the ways I committed to being? The answer to all of those questions should be “yes” and then the nuances reflect the quality I am delivering.
Now that I have thought through these professional responsibilities I see why balance is so elusive. Each of the many activities and stakeholders shift in priority at least on a daily basis. It means that every day I need to make choices of how I allocate my time and what obligations I will fulfill. This should be intentional or it is easy to get lost in running from one task to another.
One critical point I would like to stress as you reflect on your own obligations and how you fulfill your professional responsibilities, is to block out a portion of everyday for you. It is important to have “me” time to gather your thoughts and feelings and replenish or you will burn out. We are fortunate to work in such a thriving atmosphere and when taken to an extreme can be overwhelming. It would be great if you can respond to this blog with the ways in which you find balance and replenish.