The Peak Performing Professor

It’s spring conference season, usually a brief if welcome release from our daily grind and change of scene that offers a wonderful opportunity to see our work from a broader perspective.

Every time I return from presenting my work at a conference, I renew my resolve to devote even more time to scholarly activity — where does the time go? I found this constructive piece from last week’s Tomorrow’s Professor blog very timely (yuk yuk, pun intended):

Anchor Your Projects with a Time-Focused Theme

Once you have picked some projects from your vision categories, you might create a sense of urgency by fitting the projects into a specific time frame such as a year, semester, or month.  Here are several suggestions about how to establish a theme for the year (semester, month).

* Look backward in time to see if you can see a theme for a previous time period (week, month, or year) that lays the foundation of a related theme for the next period. Does any theme summarize your accomplishments of this period?  If last year was the “year of the tenure application,” this year might be the “year to reconnect with my long term research project.”

* Establish a central theme for the current time period, e.g. “the year of course revision.” You might create one theme around work and another for home.  Your teaching theme might be to “get graded papers back within two classes,” while your home theme might be to “monitor children’s homework while dinner is cooking.”* Ask yourself what you would like to be able to say about the present time period at this time next year.

Once you have established a theme for the time period, ask yourself, “If this is the year or semester of this theme, what should I be working on?”  The answer will help you break the theme down into projects, goals, sub-goals, and tasks.

The full excerpt,  Align Projects with Priorities comes from The Peak Performing Professor: A Guide to Productivity and Happiness by Susan Robison. Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand. One Montgomery Street, Suite 1200 San Francisco, CA 94104-4594 []. Copyright © 2013