Tag Archives: allocating time

Summer Habits Worth Keeping

Summer Habits {New Faculty}

It’s officially summer! Well, in my neck of the woods it is. Town has settled into what will be the norm, students are stressing over summer classes on Yik Yak, and there’s enough construction going on to build a whole new campus by Aug. 15th. I discussed my summer schedule last week but wanted to follow up with one more post about how to set up to be more successful over the summer. As I draft this post, it’s about 9:45 a.m. and I’m at the local coffee shop. Having just enjoyed a breakfast sandwich and currently listening to them staff vacuum out the roaster, I cannot help but think about how much I’m enjoying the ambiance of the white noise. (A shop vac is totally white noise and necessary for cleaning a roaster).

I need to have some schedule disruption to keep myself on my toes. Schedule disruption can come in the form of a change of scenery, a change of pace, or a change in the schedule as a whole. Changing up the schedule helps me in numerous ways:

  • I can plan my work and writing. I have a trip next week, guess what I’m doing this week? Getting ready to be out of the office. Having a deadline (or a trip) helps me get ahead by planning more efficiently.
  • I’m choosing different days to swim (or other activities) each week (yes, I realize those choices are limited), but since it’s summer, I can take a little bit longer of a leash and swim when I want or feel like it, not when my calendar dictates me to do so.
  • I head to a coffee shop or somewhere different at least one half day a week. I like certain places, but I also know I need to be disrupted a little bit too.

It sounds a bit silly, but I grew up on a schedule at school and with extra-curricular’s, but I also grew up on a working dairy farm where changing things up was the norm. If the hay was dry, you baled it; if it was going to rain, you made silage. If a cow was calving, you helped her, even if that meant it was the middle of milking time. Schedule disruption has worked for me because it keeps me on my toes cognitively. I was in a rut this spring and it was largely due to the same schedule every.single.day with no changes whatsoever. My life was over scheduled and I experienced burn out.

On the opposite side of the coin, I like the schedule too. I like writing group and having goals. I’ve already polished, edited, and submitted two manuscripts since classes ended. I’ve coded 2/3 of another data set and have begun piecing together that manuscript and while it’s in its’ infancy, the pages are coming together in my google doc. My goal is to submit that before summer sessions end. I’ve reached out to collaborators to get other projects polished and finished. I’ve set aside time for the tasks and also written in my calendar ‘VACATION’ to make sure I give myself a break. I’m taking an unprecedented amount of vacation this summer (for me) and am looking forward to it all.

As the summer settles in and the long days begin, remember to keep things fresh for yourself. Skip out an hour early to enjoy the day, head in an hour late to enjoy the pristine mornings, and do what works to keep your head in the writing game. Find your own happy-medium with all of it, remember that I’m just telling you what works for me. Being over scheduled killed me this spring, traveling for a month straight does the opposite in a different way. Since I live alone, I can always tell how much I travel based on how much garbage I make. May = 1 bag of garbage. My house is currently enjoying having someone in it for at least half of a month and I’m enjoying a nice 50/50 split between scheduled and unscheduled time.

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The Time I Stopped Answering Email

quitting email | new faculty

i made this meme 🙂

Miraculous thing that email is eh?

This one time, when I realized that my smartphone and my email were using me, I quit.

I quit email.

I quit notifications.

I quit noises.

I quit chat icon thingys.

I quit it all.

And it never felt so good.

I didn’t smash my iphone, but I sure as hell stopped letting it control my life. It goes into ‘paperweight’ mode more and more and I kind of like it.

Circa 2007 I got my first smartphone–a blackberry Pearl. It was all down hill after that.

My love affair started out as most do: fast and furious. It was mutual infatuation with a hint of neuroses. We were soul mates.

I can clearly see now why my ex-husband would have been annoyed. Clearly.

Over the last year though, i’ve made a conscious effort to reel my technology use in. Not only was it out of necessity, but it was also out of choice. I’ve been a smartphone junkie since 2007 and was totally unprepared for the plethora of noises, pop-up’s, notifications, and other assorted ways it could intrude on your life. As the new updates roll out, I’m already googling how to get rid of the new annoyances that will come when I download and install.

On the flip side, I also appreciate it for its’ ability to stop everything and leave me alone with some modifications. The first thing I did:

  • stopped pushing email
  • set the privacy functions from 11 p.m.-7 a.m.-mandatory every day.
  • turn the ringer off-no vibrate-for hours at a time, especially when i’m (trying) to write
  • don’t answer texts/calls on purpose (self proclaimed call screener extraordinare right here)
  • stopped ALL notifications except calls and texts

WHY? so the device wasn’t using me, I was using it. I log on when I want. I check when I want. I engage when I’m ready.

Then, I went radical. I didn’t answer a single email all weekend. It was amazing. I did it again just to validate my results.

And for all of you who have already caught on….

I drank the kool-aid, how come no one told me about this sooner??

I’m going to repeat my experiment for many weeks to come to validate my scientific research. I’m pretty sure we all know the results.

Try it out with me!

All jokes aside, by setting my own boundaries and NOT answering email on the weekend, it helped me do a few things:

  • enjoy myself and whatever I was doing
  • set my own boundary
  • feel better for Monday when I could go through them and start answering
  • yes, i still make a list in Evernote sometime Sunday evening just to make sure I’m ready for Monday

How do you manage your email?

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Taking Time Off

Taking Time Off | New Faculty

 

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I don’t have kids. Or a spouse. Or even a pet that’s here with me right now. But, I still take time off. The holidays were an excellent excuse to follow a slightly modified compass and take it easy for a few days. Not my rear-end, that’s always well rested, but my brain. And my mind and spirit. It takes an emotional beating during the semesters. The onslaught of emails, the demands from others, the demands I put on myself, the pressure, the endless requests from people and places who think they’re the only person on the planet who need something. It’s not like my dog who I can give a command to and she listens, these humans–they’re something else!

So, I took a week off, ok, about 9 days if we’re really slicing here. I scheduled them. I relished in them. I failed to even turn on my own computer for a few days. Don’t worry, I still have my iPhone for the withdrawal symptoms. I read a piece in the Chronicle about taking time off and while this woman’s situation was much more dire, it got me thinking about taking time and how precious it has become. I’ve harped on technology use time and time again, but it’s not invading the worst situations in our lives, making it more and more difficult to just ‘be’ sometimes. I loathe it for these reasons but also rely on my own good judgement and sometimes others to gently nudge (or tell me flat out) to knock it off. This statement hit home:

“This is the way we live now: We can work from almost anywhere, at anytime. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should.”

No matter the situation, where you work, what you do, or how you do it, check in with your employer about the time off piece. I’m not saying you should use every hour you get the moment you get it, but it can’t hurt to be aware. I know that at my university there are weeks allotted for maternity or medical. There is an emergency medical act for things that spring up. There is also time off granted for other reasons as well. The policy is negotiable to a point with the department and as long as everyone can agree, the university will even let employees work remotely for up to six months, depending on the case. Pretty generous as long as all parties are at the table being accountable.

Taking time off is NOT a sign of weakness or inability to do a job. It’s a sign that you need it. By taking some time, it will give you the energy to take care of an infant, a loved one, recover from surgery, take care of your mental health, or a host of other reasons. Time off doesn’t have to be  three months long. It can be a day, an afternoon where you need to steal away, or a long weekend. However you choose.

As I sit and write this post, I’ve been back to work for a week now and my brain is screaming (go chill out) at me. Luckily, I worked hard this week, accomplished the majority of what I’d set for myself, and will do it again next week with a reward at the end: a long weekend to go visit a good friend and colleague from my grad program. I don’t need six months right now, but I will gift myself three days to do some catching up in a more southern location on the map in the sunshine.

Instead of ‘should-ing’ all over ourselves over taking some vacation time, just take it. Don’t feel bad if it’s warranted. As a young faculty it will become more and more necessary to take that time when we can. The work will always be there and finding the balance will come naturally. That’s what they tell me anyway!

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What I Did on Winter “Break”

Winter Break | New Faculty

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I don’t know who gets a break other than the students…it wasn’t me! I am fortunate to have a job that gives me flexibility on where I work (I’ve been hiding out at home for optimal productivity lately) and technology is truly an amazing thing but I’m here to tell you one thing: anyone who thinks that faculty get the ‘whole month off’ is nuts. Did I take a week off between Christmas and New Year’s? Yes. Did I feel guilty? No. Did I still check email? Yes (hangs head in shame). I also planned a four day weekend to see a good friend. Sue me later.

Here’s what I did accomplish:

  • coding a mass amount of data for research
  • contributed to an article with a grad student
  • contributed to a pre-accepted article
  • consulting work to earn some extra cash to pay for the ‘holidays’ that I gave myself
  • catching up on/writing new posts
  • job hunting (I’m funded on soft money still)

I had several people lament that I would have the whole month off. I’d like to know where these people work because I have yet to meet any kind of academic who ISN’T always working to some extent. After the week of Christmas off,  I was going a little nuts anyway. I DID clean out my closets, organize things, and donate several bags of goods to good will so I guess I channeled that energy some place else that was abandoned once the work break was done.

All in all, it has been a successful ‘break.’ I did need a week to clear my brain, do some other things, and take a little time to not run around like a crazy person. But, I have bad news for the rest of the world: I did NOT get a month off….have to find another faculty who did!

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Why Are We “Should-ing” All Over Ourselves

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“Should-ing” is a term that was coined in my reality by Carrie Bradshaw in the days of SATC. While a play on words, I find as a female that this keeps plaguing me day and night. I should publish more, I should do more, I should keep working even though my attention span ended at least 36 minutes ago because I’m hungry, I should be more aggressive, I should, I should, I should…..

When did women stop being content and start ‘should-ing’ all over themselves?  In the course of trying to have it all, do it all, and be it all to everyone, we started to burden ourselves with heavy lifting.  Is it to prove ourselves as equally valuable as men?  Certainly, we are. We bear the children that are these men. In my book, that’s like an automatic home run.  In modern society, males are still prized and while I get this, why haven’t we gone back to a matriarchial society yet?  It seems in countries where leadership is carried out by women, things are actually better.  After watching Half the Sky on PBS a few weeks ago, it couldn’t be more obvious.  Men buy booze, hookers, and soda with money. Women spend it on clothing for the children, to send them to school, and provide food that will feed everyone equally, no matter the age or gender of the hungry person.

In our culture, women continue to be an undervalued resource.  Never has this been more obvious to me than in the past five years. Growing up, my mom was the boss of the farm. You wanted to sell seed corn, you talked to my mom.  You wanted to sell semen to breed the cows, you talked to my mom.  You wanted to hunt on the land, you talked to my mom. You tried to ask where the boss was when you drove up in your truck, you had to talk to my mom.  Yes, I have a dad, but my mom is the baller of the business.  When my mom first began running the dairy, a man stopped by asking for the boss and she told him that he was talking to the boss.  He thought she was joking.  She bid him a quick farewell and his business was lost to our farm.  Sucker. Today, she and my dad split things more evenly, but this was before she married him and she farmed it alone for eight years.  She’s the boss. You want to get within a 1/2 mile radius of anything on the farm, you go through her. Got it?

She also raised us this way.  Nobody is the boss of you (hypothetically).  Autonomy was important and having that sense of identity was a key in our development.  She may not have liked every thing we did and every choice we made, but she raised us that way so it was only her to blame when we did grow up to be independent, strong, and opinionated   We had learned from the best. The past five years have made my lack of value to some parts of the world painfully obvious.  If it’s not my skin color, it’s my education. Not everyone agrees that social science is a science and I chalk that up to their own insecurities.  If it’s not my education, it’s my ovaries.  I have turned against my own fellow females and have convinced myself that if I decide that having a kid is ever a good idea, my career will suffer as a result.  This comes from knowing how this society treats women.  This comes from knowing that if I have these imaginary kids with another academic, one of us will have to have a lesser career. Research backs that up and common sense says that no child ever did well in a house with two TT parents trying to publish or perish under the same roof. That would just be unfair to the child, plain and simple.

So why do we keep ‘should-ing’ all over ourselves?  As a new faculty it can be really hard to just know when to stop. I had lunch with another first year faculty and she is drowning in all of her ‘should’s’  right now.While feeling overwhelmed is natural, continually beating yourself up is not. It has taken me almost a full year of being on faculty to come to the realization I’m about to share. Watch out folks, this is NOT rocket science. After listening to my colleague, I finally said, “just stop.” She looked at me like I was nuts, and I went to say, “at some point, you will have to just stop with how much you should be doing and start doing what you want to be doing, even if it’s nothing, hanging out with your husband, or watching bad tv.”

So, today as you wrap up skimming or reading this post, do one thing for me (and for you). Pick a time today and ‘just stop.’ Go do something you want to do and stop “shoulding” all over yourself. A mental holiday is just what this doctor ordered!

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The Jar Labeled: Grad Student Tears

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I was discussing my experience with a colleague recently about being a grad student and how I cried. I then told her about a recent meeting with a grad student bursting into tears during her monthly mentoring meeting with me. I joked that in grades 6-12, my former students would cry once in a while (which is fine btw), but a grad student bursting into tears was a new phenomenon for me (this was also fine, keep reading, i’m not making fun or her or any grad student).

Not too long ago, I was a grad student and in case you were wondering YES I CRIED. I cried to my mom when I was so unhappy. I cried to her on the phone in the stairwell of my office building because I was frustrated. I cried to my ‘work husband,’ another grad student when I was losing my shit. I cried with my advisor when I was beyond frustrated about a situation that had turned from bad to worse by lies. In fact, I can clock my meltdowns on the calendar since they usually fell at the beginning/middle of each semester when I felt like I was getting buried. Grad school is an experience that can only be described by fellow graduate students and the range of emotions will often leave you exhausted and yes, even crying.

So, here we go grad students. If you’re reading this, you should know that I completed my graduate program a year ago and got hired (it’s possible and good luck!). This being said, I learned some hard lessons in grad school and would like to share them with you here so you may or may not do some of these things. I wish you the best in your graduate program and continue to feel humbled by the experience and am using many of the valuable skills I learned in my graduate program.

It’s simple. We want you to learn, to work, & learn how to do research. You don’t feel like it? Have a chip on your shoulder? Think you can slink through? We’re not dumb. We will figure it out. We know the language you speak because we also speak it fluently. Stop. Get to work. Get off your ass and get to work.

There is no road map to graduate school so quit trying to download it on your smart phone. Quit trying to control and micro-manage all of it because as soon as you think you have a hand on it, life will toss you something super fun (insert sarcasm).

Grad school is an experience. Experience it. Go to the socials, meet other students in your classes, get involved in something besides school, research, and going home to your couch. Scrape your ass off the chair and go out. You don’t have to party like an undergrad to form relationships with people. Find a core group and go out with them. Make it a standing invitation. Sometimes you want like minded people around you who understand what you’re talking about when you’re at your best and worst.

Get communicating. NOW. With who? Everyone. Set weekly check in’s with your advisor if you can. Make a list of questions. Get a mentor. You’ll need someone on your side who will lead you and guide you along your way. Break it down with your spouse, significant other, kids, and family. Odds are, these folks won’t understand why in the world you’re in grad school so you better rally your troops so they respect your decision, even if they don’t understand it. Communicate with the other grad students around you. Coursework, job prospects, life, hobbies, weird ingrown toenails, whatever it is, it’s ok. I can’t stress how important it is to communicate. As you get deeper and deeper into your program you will continue to withdraw due to work and research so start reaching out early.

Plug your sense of humor in and turn it on HIGH!!! Being so tired you’re giggling like a four year old, being so frustrated that you begin to laugh uncontrollably, or just being giddy on too much bad coffee while you race to find free food are all good reasons to laugh. So, get ready. Perhaps you need to check out phd comics or the grad school tumblr if you need help finding your chuckle because there will be days when absolutely nothing else is funny, including you.

Grad school is your job, not your life. Did you hear me? It’s your job. It will lead you to your next job so make sure you do a good job but remember it’s not forever.

Grad school is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Get some good shoes, a good laptop, a thick skin, and prepare to gain 10 lbs. from all of the sitting.

Grad school can be isolating and very lonely. I cannot stress how terribly isolating the experience can be because you’re often the only one working on your research. Go get those experiences and reach out so you don’t suffer from grad school loneliness.

Grad school guilt. Turn off grad school sometimes. You will need time off. The blessing and the curse of grad school is that it’s always there. With more mobile options available, that nagging feeling that you should always be working will eat away at you and the ‘grad school guilt’ as I like to call it, will make you feel like you should be working 24/7. In truth, you shouldn’t have to work all of the time. If you are, you’re not being efficient. Pick a start time and an end time and base those on your circadian clock. Make a point to do things you enjoy; working out, playing music, movies, outdoor activities, reading other things, whatever it is, pencil in the time to do it. Make time for regular tasks too like paying bills, it’s amazing how pleasurable grocery shopping can be when you’re not racing through the store like a maniac. Taking delight in some regular activities will grow on you. I promise.

There you have it. It may seem like a lot or a little. No matter where you fall in the spectrum, take it from a first year faculty. As I get ready to celebrate my first year on faculty, it’s passing quickly and the lessons I learned in grad school I still reflect on. Your program and experience will be unique so don’t spend time comparing you vs. whoever. Just go in and kick some ass.

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The summer **sigh** of relief

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The college town where I live let out a large ‘exhale’ the day after graduation. I could feel it….A week after, once all of the stragglers packed up their cars and u-hauls, the town let out a ***sigh**** the size of the football stadium. So have I. While at yoga this week, the instructor, who is also a full professor, was also observing the collective sigh that the town makes once the majority of students leave for the summer.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of summer classes, camps, and other events but for the most part, the place returns to a beautiful, idyllic, town….The faculty finally emerge from their offices to head out for a meal, take time to say hello to folks, and aren’t answering emails on their smart phones at a vapid pace.  While at lunch with some other faculty, we all ran into at least a dozen faculty that we knew.  Everyone waits for the students to leave so they can sit, eat, and chat at a more leisurely pace without interruption. The faculty smile again and it’s not a forced “Don’t make me listen to this student for longer than five minutes” smile, it’s a genuine grin of “I’ve emerged from under my pile of grading, let’s make it a long lunch” smile.

Something else has happened. I’ve started sleeping again. Truth time: I’m wound a little tight.  This semester was nothing short of twists and turns with my work, my students, and my least favorite thing: grants. Having started this job before graduating, the transition was also immediate so it took me a while to get my brain caught up to my professional responsibilities. I’m happy to report that the two are in sync (no, not the boy band) and a harmonious balance has emerged. After submitting the last large report to the funding agency, hearing the reports from the external evaluation folks, and settling on the unresolved issues, I started sleeping again. I usually sleep ok, but during the semester, seven hours is the norm and I’m up with the sun, no matter the day. I call it “survival mode.” Good for watching bad Saturday tv, not good for much else. My boss is headed abroad for a fancy faculty trip that he was chosen for–lucky guy–and when asked what I should do for him while gone, his advice included the following statement, “take it easy, keep the fires going, answer anything you want or ignore it, you need a break.”  THANK YOU BOSS…. 😀

I don’t know if it was the finality of finishing the reports and other business or hearing those words that clicked for me, but whatever it was, I slept on it. I’ve been sleeping like a champion–9-10 hours a night. Apparently, I was in a deficit.  I know it won’t last, but while it does, I’m going to enjoy it.  I will take care of business the next few weeks and maintain my life, but I won’t be in such a rush to get out of the door in the morning, I won’t be reading emails at 11 p.m., and I most certainly WILL be rolling back over and sleeping for an extra hour. The frenetic pace will be back, I can always count on that, but I will enjoy the luxurious gift of sleep and some extra time while it lasts…..

As a new faculty, I know I need the time, the space, the renewal and before I go all “yoga” on you, I’ll stop right there.  You know you need it too! Go enjoy yourself! Take a day, take a week, take a break, and enjoy your week!

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Quality of life in academia

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I have a good friend who is married with a child who is now middle school age.  For years, his wife was trying to get hired full time as a  teacher in the local county system.  She started out as a substitute, moved up to part time, and last year, was hired full-time.  A dream come true for her.  Her husband, my friend, supported this–not just because he is a good man but he loved that his wife was so happy and doing what she was passionate about.

We were chatting the other day and as we wrapped up ‘business’ the conversation turned to family and life outside of work.  He made some comments to me that really got me thinking for a few reasons.  His main point was this,”I love that my wife is so happy and while it’s easier to pay some bills, I can’t say that our quality of life has improved.”  I asked why-not just to be nosey, but because it’s usually been just me going through life.  While I was married many years ago, I was very young and naive, two reasons that I’m not married anymore so I value and respect any wisdom I can get from someone who has worked very hard at his marriage in a true partnership. I also asked because in the event that I get married, it is always good to glean information from those you trust.

Back to asking why? His answer was simple: “we eat out more, we’re both exhausted, our son gets on our nerves even quicker and it’s not just his age, it is nice to pay bills faster but I don’t know if it’s been worth it for our family. It just feels like we’re existing and shuffling our son around without taking really good time to do things and enjoy life.  Neither of us have any energy on weekends to do those things. I would NEVER ask my wife to stop, she loves it and I don’t mind bearing more responsibility, but I think we’re going to have to re-assess everyone’s work schedules once the academic year is over.”  Truth and honesty. I really appreciated it and found a new respect for my friend at that moment.  He was honest and vulnerable because he needed to say it out loud and knew I would never judge him or his life. He and his wife work really hard at their marriage and do the best they can for their child. It was eye opening to hear him say that more money didn’t mean more happiness, in fact it was leading to less happiness. I’ve read the research and seen the statistics, but to hear it was different. No, he doesn’t want his wife home baking cookies, he celebrates her success and dreams, supporting her, but his exhaustion was undeniable.

As a new faculty, I wonder about the quality of my own life.  There are some luxuries that come with being a faculty.  Better parking, no set office/work hours that you have to be there as long as the work gets done, benefits, decent salary, and flexibility are just a few.  However, with those things come other expectations.  Publishing and grant writing are the two that come to mind first–that is backwards to me as I type it because teaching and the students should be first, but they have been replaced by the almighty dollar.

I haven’t even mentioned home life.  What home life?  Work to live or live to work?  I have spent a great deal of time and energy in learning how to ‘turn off’ once I get home. From the very literal sense of turning off my email push notifications on all electronic devices to ignoring work from after 7 p.m.  Yes, I am guilty of not sending emails at midnight, due in part to the fact that I’m in bed, but also because there has to be balance for me. I can compartmentalize but like any good junkie, sometimes I fall off the wagon.

Living with someone helps immensely.  There are things that we like to do, brain rotting TV we like to watch together, places we go as a pair, and sometimes that person serves as a gentle reminder that is might be time to stop working.  It’s never harsh or mean in tone, but a look or a simple request goes a long way. It’s only at this point in my life that I’ve learned to recognize the reminder and it’s something I’m still working on.

As a new faculty, how would you rank your quality of life on a likert type scale of 1-5 with one being awful and five being amazing?  Why would you give it that rating? What would you tell other new faculty and what advice would you offer them to help improve their quality of life?

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Summer schedule

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No more teachers, no more books…..or Alice Cooper singing “schools out for summer!”

The semester ends this week and everyone is chomping at the bit for some down time. I’ve noticed it the past few weeks in the parking lots on campus, in the feeling in the air, while the energy is high, it’s also that tired energy that feels frazzled and a little panicked in nature.  Maybe it’s mostly the air around me!

What’s on my summer list of things to do?

  • Take some vacation time
  • Read for work/pleasure-some of my summer reading material arrived yesterday!
  • Work-it never stops–but get on a bit more of a relaxed schedule
  • Summer schedule with the blog: once per week, sometimes less than that if I’m on vacation
  • Drink iced coffee

What’s on your summer schedule?  As a new faculty it’s important to carve out some family time, so how will you do it?

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One hour, one task

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This blog from the Harvard Business Review caught my eye as I siphoned through my backlog of emails, google reader feeds, and other assorted outlets where I receive information.  I had been in a bit of a slump lately, unable to focus, going haywire on different things, sitting/standing in front of my computer for several hours with little to show for it.  It was frustrating because there were days when I could (and can) get ‘in the zone’ for hours and other days where anything shiny catches my eye and leads me towards it.  I had done well focusing my time since January, but this slump seems to have hit pretty hard.  It might also be due to the fact that now that data collection is done and students will  soon leave for summer, the writing begins.  Writing is my least favorite part….I do it begrudgingly and like how it turns out in the end, it’s just getting there that’s tough for me!

As a new faculty, we sometimes chalk it up to writers block or just an ‘off’ day, but some of the trouble may come because we’re trying to do too much at once.  Trying to answer everyone’s emails between student meetings mixed with article searching and perusing the latest RFP’s from different funding agencies has got me all tied up. Mashable has a nice infographic on what we waste our time on. Is this the nature of work now? Multi-tasking even though sound research says our brains really aren’t equipped to be able to do it for long periods of time? The three points below were taken from the blog post to serve as a gentle reminder of how we can make our work fit into the biology of how we work.

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. I have started the day with email replies and then whatever task I dread the most.  I work best in the mornings and find it prudent to do the thing I dread the most first so when my attention wains later in the day, I can work on other less time sensitive or heavy thought activities.

2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. I have cut way back on email at night. For good reason and for selfish reasons. Unless it truly is urgent or an emergency, it can wait. I have shut off email on weekends and separated what email account gets business vs. research vs. pleasure/life messages.

3. Encourage renewal. Having the gym at my disposal, along with miles of great trails, and other activities that are super affordable or free is a real plus to working on a college campus.

4. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off, you’re truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

While I don’t agree  with everything in the blog from HBR, it did make one thing crystal clear: the pace was catching up with me.  I changed up my routine a bit for a change of scenery and have split my time between my work office and home office so I can get things done in uninterrupted amounts of time.  One of the luxuries of my job is that no one cares where I get the work done, as long as it gets done.

I also gave myself time limits and chunked off one hour to look for articles, then another for skimming articles, and so on.  Obviously some things require more than one hour at a time, but the brain dictated the schedule. Of the list presented, the only one I haven’t gotten to yet is the vacation…hopefully soon!

How do you parse out your time as a new faculty?  What do you wish you could be doing to be more efficient with your time?  What advice would you share with someone about to begin their first job?

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