Tag Archives: calendar

On Keeping a Detailed Calendar

Keeping a Calendar {New Faculty}


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.

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Be the CEO of Your Calendar

Managing Your Calendar | New Faculty


On no particular Friday, I had run out of mental gas. However, I had set up myself with several meetings, had edits to do on an article that had been accepted, had a laundry list of recommendations to write for students, and above all: I really wanted to crawl back in bed or just relax for a few hours.

As I tried to pysche myself up for the meetings, I opened up my calendar, only to close it almost immediately. It was far too scary. I noticed several things though:

  • my afternoons are largely blocked off already
  • i work best in the mornings
  • i have done a GOOD job of blocking off time for ‘life stuff’ like working out and social activities (which generally happen ‘after hours’)
  • there are some things in my calendar that are ‘non-negotiable’ and i have been diligent about keeping them as ‘sacred time’ because of the value they have in my life: personally and professionally
  • i will often work until about 8 p.m. most work days and have worked hard to modify my schedule to fit my needs and try to find some balance. i may be up at 7 a.m. working on those days but i try to take a break in the middle of the day to get re-energized.

Thinking reflectively about it, I should not have scheduled meetings for a Friday. Thankfully, there were in the morning, my “prime time” for my brain, my attention, and my time. By Friday afternoon, you’re better off going shoe shopping with me because that’s all the mental capacity I can handle after 3 p.m.

I covet Friday’s in academia because it’s my ‘catch up’ day. It’s the day I do this neat thing called “administrivia” and move a lot of paper, virtual or real, answer emails I’ve put off all week, and even schedule appts. off campus (life tasks) because I know it won’t be my most productive day.

I saw this post way back in the spring, saved it, and here we are….late fall…. Elmore discusses what he recommends as ways to be the BOSS of your calendar and I would agree and argue several of his points.

1. Identify one objective that energizes you each day and do it.

  • what’s the ‘big task’ of the day you need to tackle?
  • if there’s more than one, can you chunk it out?
  • respect your circadian clock. do you handle tasks better in the morning? are you a night owl?

2. Place similar activities in time blocks.

  • i put all of my ‘school site’ work in one chunk, sometimes that’s the whole afternoon since i’m often out at schools until 6 p.m. and then come back to do several more hours of work. i build my schedule so working until 8 p.m. is the norm for me on those days.

3. Schedule in advance your biggest “rocks.”

  • i would easily say that ‘writing’ is my biggest rock personally. i really need to go to my happy place to get the writing done. even after several years, i still have not found the perfect place to find my happy place. sometimes, i don’t have the luxury of finding my super happy place and i just need to get it done.

4. Invite a colleague to help you say no and stay on track.

  • we’ve talked about having friends in and outside of your faculty work. this is a perfect time to connect. whether it’s a mentor or some other type of colleague, it’s ok to find an accountability buddy.

5. Create systems to help you accomplish ongoing tasks.

  • need a reward, a motivator, or find satisfaction in crossing things off of your ‘to do’ list? whatever works, employ it!

6. Plan for margins in the calendar for priorities you must pursue.

  • forgive yourself. there might be days when you just sink more than swim. go home, lick your wounds, recover, and get back on that horse the next day. odds are you’re already doing great, we just need to reflect and revisit our calendar from time-to-time in order to breathe and reboot.
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