Weekend Reading: The New Year Edition

First Snow
On the virtues of the academic calendar is that you get at least two new years–the academic year and the calendar year–when there’s the opportunity to reboot one’s work to a greater or lesser extent. In the David Allen-style Getting Things Done system, the way get off the eternal cycle of rebooting one’s work is the weekly review: a weekly effort to sweep through your mind and your inbox to make sure you’re staying on track with all the work you’ve committed to. Reviews turn out to be hard, both because it’s hard to firewall the time to do them–after all, there’s probably something else clamoring for your attention–and because it’s hard to genuinely keep up with complex projects over time, especially ones with fuzzy deadlines.

Chase Nordengren has set up a very helpful “GTD Trigger List for Academics”, which is a Google Doc that gathers up questions that might help keep important tasks from falling through the cracks. It’s already useful, and it’s editable so other things can be added–and of course you can make your own version or incorporate it into your own template for a weekly review. Having such a list of questions that you systematically work through every week or so means that you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll remember to think about that minor committee assignment from last semester. (Hypothetically.)

On to this week’s links!

  • Kate Clancy has an excellent response to the Forbes silliness about stress and college professors: I think that is the single, major luxury afforded us, the one way in which Susan Adams was right. We have autonomy, no matter how much the funding climate may make us feel otherwise. We can decide to be different. That doesn’t mean that doing so doesn’t have consequences, but when is doing the right thing a risk-free endeavor?
    Figure out how you want this job to look, recognizing whatever constraints you feel you need to recognize (say, a certain number of publications before tenure), and negotiating the others (maybe a certain amount of funding achieved, or a particular class size).
  • Mills Kelly is against teaching tips: The message of this project, at least as it is described in Perspectives, is that teaching about the past can best be improved by gathering and disseminating “tips.” Such a stance devalues teaching as an intellectual enterprise, reducing it instead to a cluster of skills that can be learned through imitation, and worse, essentially ignores two decades of research in the scholarship of teaching and learning in history – an effort that the Association has fairly consistently supported throughout those two decades.
  • Bob Samuels thinks through Jerry Brown’s budget for California and the the Regents’ plans for online education: So let me get this vision right: UC faculty stop teaching UC courses as UC students start getting credit for courses developed outside of the UC system; meanwhile, the remaining UC faculty could increase their earnings by selling their courses to the highest external bidder as UC courses are outsourced to other providers.
  • Sarah Hird believes that female underconfidence isn’t the main cause of gender disparities in science: You really have to want to stay on this career path. Like really, really. But there’s got to be a limit for how much any one person can take before the cons outweigh the pros and the reasonable thing to do is leave – the amount of straw that breaks the camel’s back, if you will. No matter how strong (i.e., self-confident) the camel is. (Via Jeremy Yoder.)
  • Sara Davis had me at her title, “Consider the Cheeto”: And though the story of the rats painfully addicted to high-fat food may be a true story about rats, it is compelling to us because it resonates with stories we already tell about ourselves (which may or may not be true). It’s the story I want to discuss here, not the actual experience of addiction (a subject that should be treated with more seriousness and expertise than I’m equipped to do). After all, the addicted mice and rats were living under unusual and extreme conditions; most of us have a much more casual relationship with junk food.

In this week’s video, Jarad Goralnick of AwayFind (which Brian mentioned here) explains “Productivity, Happiness, and Avoiding Sudden Death”:

Bonus: From the comments to Wednesday’s “Open Thread Wednesday” post, “The Running of the Classicists.”

Have a great weekend!

Photo First snow by Flickr user James Jordan / Creative Commons licensed BY-ND-2.0

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