University researchers: can you imagine having an hour just for YOU?

Are you struggling with a heavy workload?

Are you constantly ‘on the go’?

Do you wonder how you can possibly find time for research again?


You are not alone.

There IS a way out.


Early and mid-career academics who are research active had (and may still be having) a particularly hard time during the pandemic.

In the best of times, people in these career stages frequently carry a heavy teaching load while endeavouring to become recognised as established or leading researchers. Early stage academics will most likely also need to complete a teaching qualification such as a PGCE or a Master’s degree. They have targets to pass probation while their mid-career colleagues have targets to reach before applying for promotion. Alongside their career early and mid-career academics  often have caring responsibilities for young children and/or ageing parents. I truly believe that they have more to do and in a more stressful environment than was the case for me back in the 1980’s.

As we all entered the pandemic, the REF was in its final stages (although the deadline was put back), preparing and delivering teaching on-line took centre-stage and all meetings were virtual. At the same time, many early and mid-career academics were home schooling and ensuring that their parents’ needs were taken care of.

Now campuses are open again and things are moving to a ‘new normal’. But many universities are not surprisingly undergoing some sort of restructuring which brings a level of uncertainty and consequent stress for staff.

Given this background, it is to be expected that staff may feel burnt out, emotional and lacking in self-confidence.

If you are an early or mid-career academic reading this, have you recently made a list of all the responsibilities you have at work and home? If so, did you forget something extremely important? You!

Where does time for You fit in? What do You miss doing that You used to enjoy? It might be something simple like going for a walk at lunchtime, watching a film, going to be gym, or catching up with friends. Or even just sitting on a bench outside with a cup of tea listening to the birds singing.

If time for You has disappeared from your life, can you get it back? Could you start by setting aside one hour a week just for You?

I’ll warn you now – that inner voice inside your head may try to stop you. Don’t let it. You do have time to spend one hour on yourself and you more than deserve it.

There are many advantages for you and others in doing this. Taking an hour off helps us to put things in perspective. It forces our brains to focus on something else. Taking care of ourselves helps us to feel more self-confident and relaxed. It is very well worth it.

Go on, be brave and give it ago!  But leave your phone behind!


Related posts by Jenny Ames:

How can I ensure that I use my research time for research?

What are the benefits of enhancing our personal resilience? 

How might university researchers benefit from coaching?

Positively reframing failure to achieve personal growth

Contract Researchers and Research Students. How will defining your purpose help you decide your next career move?

How can we build our personal resilience?

How might coaching help promote a positive research culture in universities?

During a 35 year career in higher education, Jenny Ames led a productive research group, worked with people from a wide range of subject areas  and countries and collaborated with organisations from various sectors. She held the title of Professor at 6 universities, graduated ~25 PhD students and mentored ~25 contract researchers. Jenny was also a senior manager for 8 years. As Associate Dean and Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor, Jenny led on Research Impact at University level. In 2017 was she was made Founding Research Impact Lead for University Alliance.
Since 2017, Jenny has been Director of Jenny Ames Consulting Ltd. Jenny’s coaching practice focuses on university researchers and people in career transition. She also delivers training for groups. Her clients are both universities and researchers on a private basis.  Jenny holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring Practice from Oxford Brookes University. She is also a Member of the Association for Coaching (MAC). Jenny has been a role model for the Aurora Leadership Development Programme for women run by Advance HE. She was also a facilitator on ‘Entrepreneurial Leaders’, a programme for senior university leaders run by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE).


Author Jenny Ames

Working with Universities, Businesses and their Stakeholders to benefit Society.

More posts by Jenny Ames