I asked ChatGPT how I can reduce my workload as a professor, and I have Some Opinions on that. Here’s what AI recommended me (in italic), and what I think about that (regular).
As a professor, reducing your workload can be challenging due to the many responsibilities you have.
You bet, AI, there’s a lot on my plate.
However, here are a few tips that may help:
Bring it on…
- Prioritize tasks: Make a list of your tasks and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. Focus on the most important tasks first. Yes, prioritizing is important – it’s the only way we can make time for writing. But we need a bit more time management tools than just listing everything and adding priority categories to it. While the Urgent-Important Matrix can be helpful to evaluate how we spend our time and what we focus on, it is more a tool for evaluating if we are working on our priorities and not so much a tool that helps us to find time for these priorities.
- Delegate tasks: If you have teaching assistants or administrative staff, delegate tasks to them to reduce your workload. I don’t have TAs nor RAs. Administrative staff can help, but only for booking rooms, invoicing and other things the central system wouldn’t allow me to do anyway – so they don’t really reduce the workload.
- Streamline your teaching methods: Look for ways to make your teaching more efficient, such as using technology or group work. I agree that streamlining teaching is important. I use checklists to do everything that needs to be done at the beginning of the semester and before classes start. Technology can help, but it can take a while to learn new tools and set these things up – so a new tool is not a direct remedy for the workload. I’m not sure how group work reduce the work load of a professor – except if it means less reports to grade (but the win is only marginal I think).
- Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with your students and colleagues, such as office hours and response times, to reduce the amount of time spent on email or other administrative tasks. AI, you have no idea how many emails I get. I also don’t know how setting boundaries is going to help me reduce the amount of time spent on replying emails – stuff needs to be addressed anyway, right?
- Take care of yourself: Make sure to take breaks, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy work-life balance to reduce stress levels and increase productivity. Hear hear – but maintaining that healthy work-life balance is rather hard when the workload is high.
- Seek support: Consider joining a peer mentoring program or working with a professional mentor to help you manage your workload more effectively. My first reaction is that most programs just take time and don’t address the root cause of the problem, which is understaffing in higher education as a result of neoliberal budget cuts.
- Re-evaluate your workload: Regularly review and assess your workload to see if there are any tasks that can be removed or streamlined to reduce the amount of time spent working. Indeed, we can optimize some time here, by leaning out of some service work – but when it comes to research and teaching, the project deadlines still need to be met and the exams all still need to get graded.
What do you think? Did ChatGPT give me good advice on how to reduce my workload?