I’ve had to work hard to get into good habits with my calendar. On several occasions, I wanted to end our relationship and update my facebook status to “it’s complicated” but I persisted with a calendar during grad school and then it became a vital necessity once I got on faculty. I went a bit overboard for a while, even putting in “workout” time, but then realized I felt trapped by it. It felt too “full” for me and I got overwhelmed by it, thus returning to my love/hate relationship with it once again. Happy medium folks.
Today, my calendar and I are largely friends. We worked out our issues because I finally made peace with several things. I can chunk out my time more efficiently if I have a guide. After a week at a conference, I made a point to block time for the important tasks by putting them in 1-2 hour blocks. It helped me manage my time without burdening me. I do color code, but let’s face it, I don’t need my six month dentist cleaning to be blue or my academic meetings to be yellow to know that “I’m busy” or that blue means personal, yellow means professional. I’ve accepted that all of my work is generally intertwined at this point and that it’s all important or necessary.
Some other useful tidbits:
1. The office admin schedules my life if I don’t do it. Faculty meetings, grad student meetings, etc… she takes care of those and I’m thankful. If I don’t keep my calendar up to date (appointments or other things) she will assume that block of time is free and she will schedule me if she needs too. I guard my time and realize she’s doing her job, but it’s important for me to keep it up to date for her to help make both of our lives easier.
2. Year end reporting. Our university employs a year-end reporting system that’s “Ok” to use. I try and do the following things to keep my year end reporting as pain-free as possible: keep my CV updated, keep a running Evernote note of activities/service that I participate in AND my calendar. I will often reference my calendar from the prior year and skim through it. I block out conferences and other events in advance so I can always go back and reference it. Did I actually go to XYZ conference? No, but my students presented their research there. It then helps me track my citations, etc… that I need for reporting.
3. Guarding my time. Like a good watch dog, I’m still working on guarding my own time. Since it’s summer, I’m trying to work alone one morning a week at a coffee shop. I like the ambient distraction and I like not being at the office. I can do things like work on edits to manuscripts and go through data to pull what I need to answer my questions without issues or the distractions I get at work. Keeping a calendar will help me plan when I can sneak away without anyone missing me too much. I rarely put where I am since the goal is to steal away.
Keeping a decent calendar has helped me as a young faculty member. There’s balance to all of it, so find what works for you.