I’m on vacation

And I’m not doing anything academic. Except email.

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Summer Slow Down

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Summer Slow Down | New Faculty

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been authoring much this summer. I wish I had a better reason and/or excuse, but I don’t. I’m just not. I’ve been working and am about to head out on vacation for a few weeks so don’t expect much out of this brain for a while. I’ve tried to reblog some of what I think is “good stuff” and I hope you think so too.

On that note, I’ve also done my usual social media shutdown too. I’ve quit posting things on my actual person (that’s me in real life) facebook account in general. I’ve removed the app from my iphone. I’ve noticed that when I get to the point where social media pisses me off, it’s time to take a break from it. Rather than deactivate, which I do several times a year, I am trying to break the habit of hitting the app on my phone when I’m bored, in between meetings, or something else that will grab my attention.

I share this with you not to brag, but to remind you (and me) that there’s more to life than work and social media. We may never find the balance, but we can enjoy what’s right in front of us. Hopefully it’s not a super giant pile of work. August will come and soon the syllabi will be flying. Until then, we’ve got a few weeks to slow down and enjoy life. I’m also slightly annoyed that facebook has been conducting research on me without my consent. The NERVE!

I’m practicing being more present. I’m reducing the distraction.

I’m enjoying my summer. I hope you are too!

 

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You do not need to work 80 hours a week to succeed in academia

Originally posted on Dynamic Ecology:

There is a persistent myth (some might even call it a zombie idea) that getting tenure in academia requires working 80 hours a week. There’s even a joke along the lines of “The great thing about academia is the flexibility. You can work whatever 80 hours a week you want!” The idea that you need to work 80 hours a week in order to publish or get grants or tenure is simply wrong. Moreover, I think it’s damaging: I hear routinely from younger folks (often women) who are seriously considering leaving academia primarily because they think that a tenure track position will require working so much that they wouldn’t be able to have any life outside work (including raising a family)*. So, this is my attempt at slaying the zombie idea that succeeding in academia requires working as much as an investment banker**.

This post was inspired by this…

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The Cost of For-Profit Education

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Writing in The New York Times, Gretchen Morgenson observes:

In the years before the mortgage crisis, financial regulators often looked the other way as banks and other lenders pursued reckless activities that cost investors, taxpayers and borrowers billions of dollars. When trouble hit, these regulators had to scramble to fix the mess that their inertia had helped create.

This same dismal pattern is now playing out in the for-profit education arena.

She is writing about the Corinthian Colleges debacle which is not, unfortunately, being treated as systemic but as an isolated case that, when cleaned up, can allow for-profit education to continue as before. That is, to take oodles of government money and government-backed loans from naive and desperate students and give very little in return.

Morgenson’s article is worth reading by anyone who believes that privatization is the way to go–in anything. But it is even more…

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My husband gave me permission to come out tonight

Originally posted on Tenure, She Wrote:

During seminars, while noting figures I could use in my own talks, I keep a running list of Odd Things People Say. This spring I compiled them and found a series of comments made by academics, to academics, complaining about controlling behavior by the speaker’s husband. These were all said in front of multiple academic colleagues, some at group dinners and some to rooms bursting with over 100 listeners.

“My husband has trained me very well: he’s taught me I’m wrong all the time.”

“My husband gave me permission to come out tonight.”

“My husband finally stopped complaining about my travel when I brought home a large honorarium.”

“If I stay on this conference call any longer, my husband will divorce me.”

“My husband has limited my travel to two trips per month.”

“Sometimes my husband will drop me off at work but mostly he tells me to stop being lazy…

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Time Management 101 From Dr. Tough Love

Time Management in Grad School | New Faculty

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“I love the sound of a deadline, I love the sound it makes as it goes whooshing by….” Whoever said this and coined it should be shot.

A  student missed a deadline. And they knew it. An email arrived while I was sleeping informing me that they were going to miss it. Life is a moving target friend. You just got shot.

It’s not fatal, they extended it by a few days. Upon request to meet because they’d just been confused the last few weeks, I handed over some resources, we discussed a few things, and onward ho. Take a stab at it friend. It’s writing, not your last love note before you die. But again, they failed to produce. Time management friends. Time management.

I forget that grad students (students in general) think we’re only working on ‘their thing’ & was reminded of that when a student said, “oh, is this for our stuff?” after telling him that it wasn’t he said, “oh, you have more work than this?” yes sir…..gads of other work besides your (now late) work…..

Is it ok to miss a deadline? Absolutely, but don’t do it because you’re confused and then wait until the last moment. That’s not cool, in fact, it’s really un-classy. And we’re going for super classy folks. In all seriousness, don’t be that guy. Ever. Or at least try not to be. It’s better to take a stab at the writing and get it all back with a million comments in Word or bleeding than to turn nothing in at all. That’s even worse. Slow productivity is at least still productivity. Shutting down the machine is just a pain in the neck for everyone involved.

The fatal error for this student: Time management or lack thereof. A second year grad student should have a better handle on this. I misjudged them. My mistake. Excuse after excuse flooded my inbox, came to see me in my office, and generally interrupted my workflow for days. In fact, I’m still waiting. Instead of reading their work, I have had 15 minutest to blog today-score! Or, in the spirit of the world cup- GOALLLLL!!!!!!

Summer is a great and wonderous (albeit short) time to create some good habits, set manageable expectations, and get your act together. I can only assume 50% of the responsibility for the student missing their deadline (yet again) and if I asked for $1 every time I got a crap ass excuse, I would be able to go out for dinner. I cannot do the writing for the student, they were hired specifically for this task, they’ve had weeks and I can no longer stand for the excuses. Welcome to grad school.

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30 Minute Meetings

30 Minute Meetings | New Faculty

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I participated in a meeting with some partners not too long ago for work. The conversation was in a lull about the topic and people were getting off tangent. I sat there for a few minutes, hoping it would turn back, but after about five minutes, I made eye contact with the “organizer” and gave him a look, mouthing the words “bring it back” to him. When the meeting was scheduled, there was no set ‘time’ delegated, no objectives or points for discussion, but having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. I wanted to tear my hair out several times over the course of a two hour meeting that could have been completed in an hour. I made a decision:

30 minute meetings.

MEETINGS ARE TOO LONG & OFTEN UNDER PRODUCTIVE (for me anyway).

I learned a long time ago that “yes” some meetings need more time and they are given their fair duty but many meetings I encounter, particularly some of those weekly ‘check in’ meetings can be cut to 30 min without issue.

Why do I do it?

There’s a few reasons:

  • 30 minutes mean we get down to business and save the small talk if we finish early. I do want to know how you are, how your kids, pets, gerbil, etc… are doing, but I really want to get business done first.
  • psychological. I’ve noticed that when I request only 30 minutes, we get done with business in a very efficient manner. 60 minute meetings usually cause a lot of sittingaroundandstaringateachother syndrome that I truly cannot stand.
  • the group is usually relatively small for the 30 minute meetings, 5 people or less, sometimes just two of us. There’s no reason we can’t get business done.
  • i hate small talk. the introvert in me usually sits/stands there (awkwardly at best) waiting for the thing to start or keep it moving.

Do meetings go over 30 minutes? Yes, absolutely and that’s ok but being up front about only needing 30 minutes helps put everyone at ease, helps people plan and allocate their time, and can serve as a catalyst to do other things.

How do I block my calendar? I block 30 minutes to the meetings that I can and am specific in my language about only needing 30.

I will usually send an agenda or list of bullet point items that I’d like to discuss. It helps steer the conversation and serves as a guide.

I understand and respect the need for “think tank” time but a weekly check in is usually just that, a check in.

If it goes over, that’s usually ok. I’ve learned that I need a break between meetings to recharge and organize my thoughts so I try to plan my calendar that way. I’m not always successful, but I’ve learned that scheduling myself with back to back meetings is like a death sentence.

I will assess who the meeting is with. How many people at the table? Dean of the college (they get all the time they want)? Is this someone who I am meeting for the first time or well established partner that I already have a good rapport with?

I’m still guarding my time like a watchdog with a herd of cattle. I share just enough but also block off time for my own work. I have even started a tumblr page this summer and attached the link to the end of my email that I update once each day, “where am i?” Anyone who wants can access it and I will usually give a general outline of the day:

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I’m hoping it becomes a normal habit for me by the time the semester begins again so I just update it from my phone in the morning and I’m off. I created a QR code for my door so anyone who wants can just scan it and stalk.

Managing my meetings has helped me continue to manage my schedule. If someone wants me, they can find me or at least get a general sense of where I am. If they want to meet, they know they start with 30 minutes. Does it always work? No. But it’s sure better than wasting countless hours in meetings that have no end.

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