From the Archives: Time Management for the New Semester

clock towerMaybe your semester starts this week, or next. Maybe you’ve already been teaching for a few days and are already grading the first set of assignments. Whatever your academic calendar, chances are good that pretty soon your schedule will be full. Here are some posts from the ProfHacker archives that might help as you navigate the transition into the semester’s routine.

Figure Out Your Priorities

Jason makes a very good point about The Difference Between Workload and Expectations Management: “it’s a lot easier to change expectations than it is workload.” Figuring out which aspects of your workload are external and which are due to your own perceptions is an essential first step to gaining more control and peace of mind. In Advice on Faculty Workload, Jeff discusses Tenured Radical’s (aka Claire Potter) suggestions for faculty about avoiding overload and how to say no to some demands on their time.

In Where Does Your Time Go? I described a method for noting down your current activities as a way of figuring out what you’re actually spending your 168 hours on. Then, in Are You Spending Time on What Matters to You? I discuss Cheryl Richardson’s “Absolute Yes List” and Julie Morgenstern’s Time Maps as tools for figuring out how you’d like to allocate the hours in your week to match your own highest priorities and personal values.

Establish Some Good Habits

A few basic tips and tools we’ve recommended can help you manage your time better, no matter what your day looks like: Kathleen recommends setting aside The First Half Hour of the Morning as sacrosanct work time. I suggest keeping a list of simple but productive tasks that you can do during your low-energy times of the day (and maybe for you that is the first half-hour of the morning). Many on the ProfHacker team use timers to keep themselves on track while teaching or writing. At the close of the day, Julie suggests How 15 Minutes Can Save 24 Hours of Stress.

Prepare for What’s Ahead

There are certain things you know are going to be coming up in the weeks ahead, and a little preparation now can save some stress and worry later.

Nels discussed Managing Grant and Fellowship Deadlines and Ethan offered 5 Easy Steps (and One Completely Crazy Step) for Surviving a Grant Proposal. Just keeping up with the flow of professional information can sometimes feel like a burden on your time, so guest author Lincoln Mullen offered a strategy for Keeping Up with Journals and Jason offered an introduction to using RSS feeds to keep up online.

George offered three posts to help you hit your deadlines, have a life, and conquer the grocery store. Heather offered strategies for preparing for sickness, including establishing clear communication methods with your students from the first day of class. And finally, Nels recommended Growing a Beard for Productivity. That won’t work for all of us, obviously—but demonstrates that even some slight adjustments to your daily routine can help you work and play more effectively this semester.

What challenges do you face with managing your time effectively? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Ell Brown]

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