Lessons in Time Management

I thought I was busy as a graduate student, and I was…. As long as I showed up at the right place — the library, the classroom, the data-entry warehouse — I got through. Being a faculty member lumps the hours and the tasks all together, and there is little immediate feedback on what’s important to complete. Yes, you have to prepare for class, but how well? No, you don’t have to write the article right away; there’s no deadline on it. As for skipping the weekly meeting of a pointless committee well, who really knows it will matter? | Managing time as an assistant professor is something for which few new faculty members are fully prepared, but it’s crucial to your long-term success. — Lee Tobin McClainLessons in Time Management (Chronicle)

Note to self: print out this article and read it a week or two before every semester.

I tend to over-prepare for workshop classes, often coming in with stacks of handouts that I never pass out and overheads that I never use.

Teaching a literature course requires much less prep time on a week-to-week basis (reading a dozen short poems or a hundred pages in a novel) than teaching a writing course (where you have to mark student exercises, checking their revisions against what you wrote in the margins of their earlier drafts, taking note of recurring problems and constructing new handouts for next week or next year, etc.). As long as I’ve refreshed my memory on the assigned texts, I can “wing it” and lead a pretty good discussion of readings in a literature class. A few students did request more structure when discussing readings in my journalism and “Seminar in Thinking in Writing” class, so I’ll have to keep that in mind as I plan my courses. (I haven’t had the formal meeting to discuss official course evaluations with my division chair — I’m referring now to what I learned from short end-of-term reflection papers.)

I’ve got a five-column spreadsheet, on which I’m listing all the assigned readings and due dates for the four courses I’m teaching and the production schedule of The Setonian. I should probably add a sixth column and add my research/professional goals.

And by the way, I started blogging this article before I noticed who wrote it! (Lee’s office is two doors down from mine.)