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Friday, October 16, 2015

Workload Management

Workload Management

By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

I was particularly excited when asked to speak on a panel at the Indiana State University New Faculty Orientation series on the topic, Workload Management.  Must be that I’m perceived as fairly productive, as there’s typically an implicit prerequisite for such in panel selection. 
It also doesn’t probably hurt that my daily smile is authentic. 
I do admit to having a lot of fun at work, which has a lot to do with sound management principles that I believe are a part of my life. 
So, in preparing my remarks, I pondered, What advice would I give to new faculty? I then realized that much of what assists in my current workload management, helped when I was a K-12 educator as well.   
Workload management is not something that we should do in response to the demands placed upon us; it is more what we can provide ourselves proactively, regardless of the demands or situation.
It’s really a method of “rolling life and work” similarly, authentically, and smartly. 
Any of us can thrive in workload management, if we consider doing the following . . .

Measure twice and cut once before accepting professional positions or newfound responsibilities.  If we study the people making offers for us to work with them, we’ll better be able to ascertain whether or not they will enhance or inhibit our professional qualities of life. 

Ensure that we are very much “a fit” for what we do, as the nature of workload management (in terms of clock-hours) is, at times, not-at-all one of work-life balance.  In ensuring “a fit,” we will find that our professional roles and expectations match our needs and personalities.

Consider “confluence” as one method of accomplishing workload management, which might for example, call for our laptops to be with us while barbecuing in the evenings, yet with intermittent bursts of “compartmentalization,” such as keeping away from e-mails (and workload) during our children’s sporting events or activities.

Know the relative importance of things on our plate, in terms of our supervisors’ thoughts on “where” we allocate our time and talent.  The “classic” challenge while I was in K-12 was focusing on classroom instruction, when so many people wanted a piece of my time, typically for their own urgencies.  The same holds true now in protecting time for scholarship, with ongoing demands for the other parts of “me.”  We must also recognize where we tend to spend our time and should avoid gravitating disproportionally to those areas that are our favorites, as we’ll find that our less-favorites become harder to accomplish when we’re pressured to catch-up on them.

Manage what we do intentionally and make investments that count in multiple arenas.  In higher education, this would mean that when we invest in our teaching, our workload in terms of scholarship and service is positively impacted as well.  In K-12, this might be envisioned in terms of instructional leadership, building management, and social capital.  In business, it might include products, profits, and people.  Does each investment of time and talent reap triple dividends across our areas of expected performance?

Know what we need to recharge our batteries each evening, as this will help us better manage the next day.  This is typically accomplished through recognition of whether we are extroverted, and thus need to be around people to energize, or introverted, and thus need a bit of solitude. 

Prioritize relationships over tasks, and in terms of the relationships we have at work, make many more “deposits” than “withdrawals” with those around us.  Expecting more of ourselves toward the positive output of others is the way to go.

Have “good friends” at work.  Life’s too short to think that we have to separate business and pleasure, all the time.

Take something off our bosses’ plates, as often as we can.  It will allow them to take something off their bosses’ plates as well.  Paying things upward is simply the right thing to do and does not go unnoticed.

Be around.  Be visible.  Be available.  Other people will then be able to connect with us, which may increase our collaborative opportunities that, themselves, manage our workload.


Dr. Ryan Donlan doesn’t as much believe moving toward better workload management means deciding WHAT one does in the limited time available, yet rather HOW one does all that is expected, and desired. He is also interested in learning how you achieve optimal workload management as well, so please be encouraged to contact him at (812) 237-8624 or at 

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