How do you keep track of all your obligations?
My fall rhythm is out of whack this year, as I’m not teaching my complement of courses on campus (I have a release from my two classes in order to develop an online version of one of our core courses …). Normally, the times and places that I teach and hold office hours anchor my week and fill my calendar with repeating, regular obligations. “Lather, rinse, grade, repeat,” as it were. Uprooted from that regularity, I find I’m having some trouble remembering everything I have to do, and being in the right place at the right time.
Here’s some of what I’m trying to stay on top of:
- Executive position on national scholarly organization
- Executive position on faculty association
- Subcommittee membership related to same
- Helping rewrite the university’s copyright documents
- Chairing a PhD area exam committee (co-create exam, meet with students)
- Department meetings related to urgent, irregular matters
- Hiring activities, and visiting speakers
- Supervising 3 PhD students, 2 MA students, and 1 undergrad, and reading their writing and meeting with them about funding and proposal and dissertation/thesis deadlines
- Peer review for two publications
- Meetings with the team helping me produce the online course
- Blogging at Hook & Eye
- Applying for conferences and workshops
I keep forgetting things, missing appointments or writing them down for the wrong time or forgetting to follow up on things I’m meant to take a lead on or filling out an email survey or offering feedback on something or answering an urgent question or whatever.
Not teaching, I realize, doesn’t mean I have more free time. I don’t. I do have, though, a lot more unstructured time. My obligations are scatter-shot through the week, every week looking different from every other.
I’m pretty sure if I could figure out a better system, I could stay on top of all of this. None of the work is impossible. But I seem to spend a lot of my time trying to manage my time and figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, and waking up in the middle of the night having forgotten something important, and racing to catch up.
I try really hard to use my iCal, which syncs across all my devices (two computers, a phone, an iPad, the cloud). But I forget to check it. And I am trying to use Things, a great organizer and to-do list for iOS, but again, I often forget to check it. My paper lists are really good, but not if I leave the notebook at school and I have a day at home.
I guess everyone is right: the post-tenure years really are super jam packed with … the drip drip drip of professional obligation. I’ve never ever been trying to do so very many different things where I have so much responsibility, all at the same time. I’m not sure how to do this right. I’m used to big responsibility in a limited number of things that I already know how to do well, and that fit large and regular chunks of time (like teaching, or my research). All the professional work, and all these graduate students, and administration work? This is new. I’d like to be proactive in all my new roles: I have lots of ideas and lots of energy. But I seem to be getting really frazzled just trying to make sure I am in the right placea t the right time, and minimally prepared. I want to do more than that. And I gotta figure it out.