Managing time productively

  • Here is a list of helpful hints from Boston University's Center for Excellence in Teaching.
  • This article from Psychology Today reviews a published study that analyzed why faculty procrastinate and what steps they can take to be more productive. The original study is titled I Can Start That JME Manuscript Next Week, Can't I? The Task Characteristics Behind Why Faculty Procrastinate (David S. Ackerman and Barbara Gross, Journal of Marketing Education, vol. 29, No. 2, August 2007, p. 97-110) and can be downloaded from our library's eJournals collections.
  • Another paper with a lot of practical suggestions is Time Management for New Faculty by Anastassia Ailamaki and Johannes Gehrke, SIGMOD Record,, 32(2); 102-106, June 2003.
  • A useful set of time saving tips for faculty in the three areas of teaching, research, and service comes courtesy of Michael Arnzen.
  • David D. Perlmutter has three articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled Good Deeds That Are Most Punished that are especially valuable for junior faculty that warns them about the traps they can fall into by spending their time on things that look good and interesting but may not help them achieve their career goals. The three articles deal with teaching, service, and research.

Here are some other suggestions for managing time:

  • Never check your email first thing in the morning. Do it only after you have done two hours of scholarly work.
  • Turn off the automatic email arrival notification. Check your email only at regularly spaced intervals with a minimum of two hours in between, but preferably only three times a day.
  • Block off time on your calendar for the important things. Don't take for granted that the time you hoped to use for scholarly activity (writing papers and grants, reading journal articles, analyzing data, etc.) will not be taken up by other things like meetings, phone calls, visitors to your office, etc. Once these items are on your calendar, they should no longer considered "free" time and you should refuse to let other things take their place unless they are true emergencies.
  • Make a list of things you must do and by when, and block off time on your calendar to do them. There is a lot of good free software out there that you can use for this purpose.
  • Create deadlines for yourself to help you make progress on long-term projects. Offer to give seminars and conference talks on your scholarly project, and work-in-progress talks to your departments.