Earlier this week, Trish Roberts-Miller published an essay in Inside Higher Ed on working 40 hours a week. She picks up on many of the same themes I’ve addressed here over the past few months including the problem with busyness and the necessity of a weekly schedule. While there will be weeks when a big project is due or an experiment needs more time, there is simply no reason for academics to work 50, 60, or 70 hours a week. I’m amazed at the number of people who feel the need to work this much or at least attempt to work this much. At various points in my career, I’ve certainly fallen into the trap of thinking I need to work this many hours. The reality? Yes, you can work 40 hours a week as an academic. And yes, you can be productive, successful, and get tenure while doing this.
Photo credit: Marcin Wichary
I typically make it a habit to not read the comments in online news stories. Yet, this time I did curious how people would respond to Roberts-Miller’s argument. The following comment struck me.
One of the worst jobs I had in graduate school was as a bouncer. No, I wasn’t working outside of a bar or nightclub. I was working new student orientation. My job was to make sure that students went in alone and registered for campus services. Parents and other family members had to wait outside. It was an interesting summer and some parents understood. However, there were a few that were quite unhappy. Dealing with helicopter parents can be frustrating for everyone involved.
Photo credit: Rainer Hungershausen
Today marks a personal parenting milestone for me. My youngest child, Daniel, starts kindergarten today. While he is both excited and a little nervous, I’m thrilled to get rid of daycare bills! I’ve been struck in the last couple of weeks about the advice and tips given to kindergarten parents. Might this advice also be useful for dealing with helicopter parents.
A week ago, the University of Illinois rescinded a faculty job offer to Steven Salaita, a scholar of American Indian studies. Salaita also draws comparisons between American Indian studies and the Israeli-Palestinan conflict. He comments frequently on Israel including controversial tweets attacking Israel using incredibly provocative language. Cary Nelson, an Illinois English professor, long time president of the Association for University Professors (AAUP), and an often outspoken supporter of faculty supported the administration’s move.
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Many faculty advocates have criticized Nelson as well as Illinois for violating Salaita’s academic freedom by taking away the job offer. This debate is complicated by the university’s timing in removing the offer which occurred just before the start of the new academic year. Although the university’s timing was unfortunate and should not have happened, the ensuing debate often seems to misunderstand the nature of academic freedom.
As we approach the beginning of a new academic year, campus is abuzz with the return of students. Faculty are busy finishing syllabi, attending department retreats, and learning to fight for parking again. If you’re teaching a class this semester, it is important that you use the first day of class to set up a great semester. The first day is important for establishing norms and expectations. Don’t be one of those instructors that reads the syllabus and then dismisses class early.
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The first day of class can help set you up for the rest of the semester. Specifically, I recommend you do the following five things to make sure you’re ready.
As we get ready to start another academic year, I want to pull the curtain back and share how I plan my schedule each week. I may go through this exercise several times over the course of the year. I take time to think through my weekly schedule and how I want to allocate my time. I have found that I can be more productive with a weekly schedule template that allows flexibility, yet doesn’t force me to reinvent the wheel every week.
Setting a weekly schedule template can prove to be a powerful productivity tool.