While struggling with the minutiae of daily professorial life—writing those minutes from yesterday’s committee meeting, grading the last few student assignments before class, preparing for the umpteenth meeting of the week, checking lesson plans to make sure they have the right mix of activities, responding to online discussion postings so as to let students know I am reading and valuing their ideas, [fill in your own overwhelming list]—I was struck by the seemingly simple message from Kerry Ann Rockquemore, President of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity: Pay Yourself First.She acknowledges our need to be super teacher, super researcher, super colleague, super public intellectual, super institutional change agent, etc., pointing out, however, that these needs tend to conflict and overwhelm, and reminding us of the importance of clarifying our long-term goals and then setting aside the time to work towards them. We need to “pay ourselves first,” finding the time to work on our own personal goals amidst all the demands of others.
For instance, if tenure or promotion is your main long-term goal, then publications can’t keep being pushed aside by all the short-term demands of the day. Rockquemore suggests starting every day with 30 minutes of writing, reserving that time before even looking at the day’s to-do list.
Easier said than done, right? But I would be interested in knowing what tricks you have developed for working on your long-term projects. Any good time management tips you can share?