Today, in the “How I Work” series, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Robin Price. Robin is senior lecturer in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at the QUT Business School. She came to academia after a career in retail management and another career in training/vocational education. She holds a PhD, B.Com (Hons) in Industrial Relations, Grad Dip in Adult & Vocational Education from Griffith University, and a B.Arts (History, English) from the University of Queensland. She researches young people’s employment from both the supply and demand side and is currently working on several projects around young people’s ‘employability’.
Current job: Senior lecturer in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management
Current location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Current mobile device: iPhone, iPad
Current computer: Laptop, with external hard drive and large screen
What is your current situation and research?
This career is my third after a decade managing retail outlets, another decade as a training consultant and now a decade in academia. I completed my PhD in 2004 and was offered a tenure track associate lecturer position just before I submitted on the basis of my management and teaching ability (yes, I know, massively fortunate). The first three years as an academic I coordinated units with 1500 students per semester, 4 lecture offerings and up to 24 tutors. I published next to nothing. A 3 year period as a post doc investigating young secondary school student’s experiences of work set me on the research active path. Now I have a teaching/research/service load and I am still researching in employment from both the supply and demand side. I am particularly interested in young people and their experiences of and transitions into paid employment.
What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
Dropbox is my life support system. Everything syncs there and I also back up on an external drive (I am paranoid about backing up). I use all the usual Microsoft office software and Camtasia for recording and editing lectures (one of my units is flipped & blended). I use Reminders on my phone to keep a record of things to do and Outlook calendar to schedule them, Skype/Google hangouts to talk with co-researchers and students I supervise, and Evernote for things I see and want to find again, but never seem to get back to.
What does your workspace set up look like?
I work in my university office three days a week (my teaching and supervision meeting days) and at home two days, or more if I can manage to block all my meetings.
What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Clumping my contact activities into several days works really well, because I need to be in a thinking headspace to write. Set deadlines for writing tasks, artificial deadlines if necessary. All writing takes far longer than envisaged.
How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
Word file with table with papers, titles and ideas and the state of play (under review, R&R) stuck on the wall. I give every project a coloured Manila folder and the folders sit on my desk next to my screen and make me feel guilty. I also leave emails in my inbox and schedule them as tasks in Reminders and usually Outlook Calendar as well.
Beside phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Doing this on my iPad in front of the telly on Saturday night – enough said really…
Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
Depends on one’s definition of skill, but nothing I can think of offhand.
What do you listen to when you work?
Nothing, I need silence, or I sing along (and I cannot hold a note).
What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
Bernard Keane’s Surveillance, a crime thriller about hackers. I read in bed before sleep to switch off.
Are you more introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
Introvert. I need quiet ‘me’ time, so l need to schedule it.
What’s your sleep routine like?
If I teach night classes until 9pm, then I’m wired when I get home and stay up until midnight, otherwise I’m usually in bed and asleep before 10:30pm. I’m up around 5am, always.
What’s your work routine like?
I get up and work early, while my home is quiet, so I can get 3 hours work done before I shower, breakfast and go into the office around 9am. This is my thinking, research and organisation time. I leave emails for working on in the train on my phone. I write at home, never at work, because all my resources are at home and there are no interruptions.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Schedule tasks with specific time targets and organise your day. Then use it to motivate yourself to achieve things.