My students tell me that there are only 20 days of class left this semester. I’ve been too busy to count. Unfortunately, it’s been too-busy-with-things-that-don’t-make-a-compelling-tenure-case. But, maybe, just maybe, I can salvage this mess of a semester by learning some lessons for how now to conduct future semesters. So in RBOC-fashion here’s what I’ve discovered.
- Loading up my teaching on Mondays and Wednesdays did not actually produce “free” days for research. First Tuesday got filled up with student meetings and class prep for my marathon Wednesdays. Then Thursday got filled up with other meetings, supervising student lab work, and digging out from my marathon Wednesdays. Then Fridays got mangled by yet more meetings and needing to have stuff organized for Monday’s classes. I think I actually get more done teaching three days a week (huh, my senior colleague was right!).
- My most productive work hours are from 9 to 11 at night – because there are no meetings and no students. But I can’t do everything at home because I don’t have access to programs, etc. Working past 11:30 pm doesn’t really work because I’m too tired the next day and Minnow still wakes up then and wants to come to bed with me.
- My most productive daytime work hours are 4 to 5 pm, especially if I shut my door. something about the urgency of the next day really motivates me to get stuff done. Plus, I’m pretty well through my procrastination options by that point.
- Given my productivity from 4 to 5 pm, having a class that ends at 5 stinks.
- There’s a huge difference for me between having to be on campus at 9 for a meeting or 9:30 for a class. I typically come screeching into campus about 8:55 am. That gives me time to check email and get ready for a 9:30 class, but it leaves me off-kilter if I’ve immediately got to be in a meeting.
- Even if I am not teaching new preps, teaching large introductory classes or classes with large field components still takes me quite a few hours per week.
- Online office hours rock.
- Search committees are a LOT of work. Very important, very time-consuming work. (At least one more post brewing on this topic, when I settle on how to safely write it.)
- Meeting with undergraduate and graduate students on a weekly basis is very time consuming. I know that helping them with their research IS doing research, but it still feels like a giant time suck. I’ve been much happier with the biweekly meetings I’ve been doing with two students. They make more progress in between so there’s more to talk about, and I don’t find myself resenting the time as much.
- I need to structure undergraduate research projects so that the students are able to work independently as much as possible (or under the supervision of a graduate student, I suppose).
- I still need to find a way to effectively prioritize my own research into my calendar and make the time as inviolable as other more urgent activities. I’m thinking that 3 to 5 pm a couple of days a week might be the ticket.
Any tips or tricks you could suggest?