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  • Writer's pictureKane Murdoch

Workin' 9 to 5

Evening all,

I've been seeing things (mainly tweets) and having side conversations with a bunch of people about workload recently, as it relates to both academic staff, and professional staff like myself (artist's representation below).

And the key theme to a lot of this is that higher ed is squeezing more and more blood from stones. Squeezing more out of people, in other words, and people either live with it, or get thrown away, their husk landing on a pile called "leaving academia."

I'm seeing more and more academics saying goodbye, and I applaud them for it. It's brave to break up with an abusive other, and it must be gut wrenching to stare at yourself in the mirror and say "I don't want this anymore" after (for many if not all) devoting yourself to this curiosity, this fascination, with your subject. I feel for you if that's you. I wish you well.

But this got me thinking (bad habit, I know) about how workload works for me. As academics know, they have the fabled "workload model." Although I can intuit, I have no direct experience with anything like this. My work, for example, can double year on year on year, and not a lot changes. I just have to do more work, and it's up to me to "innovate" my way out of the problem. Innovation means improving processes and procedures, and otherwise finding ways to manage on the ground facts. But all that has limits. You can't get blood from this stone.

Sometimes I think that we lose sight of what's important about work. Work is what we do to live. I refuse to allow my work to consume my life, and my happiness. I see so many intelligent, motivated and dedicated people who seem utterly consumed by work and to them I say- you're better than this.

I'm going to leave you here- if you recognise yourself in this twitter thread, let me know in the comments (or on Twitter).

Until next time,


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Feb 14

I always use this analogy: An overconfident apprentice uses his master's magic to animate a broom for chores, but chaos ensues when he can't stop the multiplying magic. Are employees the broom that keeps getting cloned? :]

Kane Murdoch
Kane Murdoch
Feb 21
Replying to

Haha, something just like that 😂

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