The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Remember that thing called 'time management'

So I am now into the semester with my first full week behind me. My weekly ritual this year has been to create a sort of 'to do' list on Friday afternoon for my work in the next week. This is actually something that I started when I was in grad school, but I wasn't always so ritualistic.

I've learned to do this for 2 reasons: 1) I can cross stuff out when I finish them (feels like I'm actually accomplishing something) and 2) so that I'm not surprised at the amount of work I need to do for the week when I come in Monday morning. With my first year of full faculty responsibilities I am learning that time management is absolutely critical. I sometimes balk at the way my weekly calendar seems to just magically fill up with meetings. I've actually started to highlight in my book as well as just writing in times. Otherwise it would just look like a jumbled mess and I wouldn't be sure when it was class time, meeting time, or office hours. Call me anal about it, but I love to have things planned and organized. If I didn't do this, I would be an absolute mess because my memory fails me on these issues.

I'm not yet to the point where I am scheduling in my 'free time' but I fear that I may not be far from that. It is already difficult to protect my lunch time and even then I have an obligation every Friday to provide lunch. I often believe that students (at least lower-level students) often are not aware of just how incredibly busy the average faculty member is. But it is mostly the ignorance on the part of the student of what a faculty members job actually is. Teaching is just a part, and that takes up a lot of time out of the lecture hall! There are also student to meet with for advising and research, multiple committee assignments, student organizations, and an attempt to do some sort of scholarly work. On top of this we try to keep current with the research and have long reading lists. I now currently have a stack of journals with articles I intend to read that is quite literally (in the true sense of the word) a foot high (and these journals are the size of a common magazine). Not sure yet when I'll get to those, but I really should. Oh, and I do like to spend some time with my husband and try to squeeze in time for exercise.

So here is to why I value my long breaks and extended summer vacations. I know it's a great job and that there are a lot of people who probably work a lot harder that I do with fewer breaks, but I will not be ashamed of the privileges that my job affords me.


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