Open Thread Wednesday: Strategies for Summer-Fall Transitions

This is my last week of summer, despite the fact that Florida heat won’t be going away anytime soon. Depending on your university’s calendar, if you’re on a 9 month contract you might also be staring down the first day of classes or savoring a last few weeks of summer research time. Either way, fall marks a time of transitioning that those of us in academia experience as our own new year’s, usually coming with its own resolutions and regrets. With course prep, syllabus writing, and in some cases cross-country moves and other stresses to resolve, it’s easy to let this transitional time slip away without marking it. However, I like to use the time to do my own version of spring cleaning and ease into a new semester. Here’s my list of must-dos for getting ready for fall:

  • Update your CV. Summer is often a productive time for research, but it’s easy to get out of the habit of recording progress. This is a great time to update everything and record those summer service tasks, accepted essays, and conference presentations. If you maintain an institutional or personal web presence (or like most of us at ProfHacker, both) it’s a good time to revisit those as well, as it’s very easy for them to get out of date.

  • Gather materials for your tenure or promotion dossier. If you’re on a track towards tenure or promotion, materials often come due very quickly in the middle of the school year. If you haven’t updated it since last year’s submission, there’s likely already several months worth of documentation. I like to at least get everything into the table of contents and in folders by category now.

  • Start the semester’s master calendar. I committed to several deadlines and conferences in the fall, which of course seems far away in June and July. But now those deadlines are closer than they appear, and too-easy to forget in the oncoming rush of student work and grading obligations. I find keeping a planner with a tentative work schedule for every project keeps the semester on track.

  • Schedule research time. I work very differently in summer than in fall, organizing my days around long periods of immersion. During the fall, I try to preserve one day a week away from meetings and classes to recreate some of that ideal writing time. While it can be very difficult to defend that from service commitments, I find looking at the meetings calendar in planning in advance makes it easier to respond to Doodle polls and meeting requests in my best interest.

What are your strategies for handling the summer-fall transition? Share your tips in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Olin Gilbert]

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