Lately a few people in higher education have been asking me about how I manage my time. It’s a great question as it encouraged me to reflect upon the strategies I use and have been trying as I manage my time and commitments associated to working as an academic. I thought I’d share some of my strategies in a post – some new and others that have been a part of me and the way I work for a little while now.
Tip 1: Calm inbox
This is a great strategy that was shared with me by @kyliebudge via @themusicbaby and is one of the best ways to make sure email does not rule my work life and downtime. The approach means that email is checked once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Utilising this strategy encourages you to consciously block in a period of time in your diary and think about when you access the email rather than checking it on every device you have multiple times (and often too many times) a day. The strategy means that you communicate this with those who contact you via your email signature so there is transparency… and often requests to know more.
This is a Calm Inbox: email is checked once in the AM and once in the PM. Learn why at www.calmbox.me
Tip 2: Write every day
Research and dissemination is a significant part of my job so I book in time everyday to write. I block out each morning for 1 to 2 hours in my diary to write as I know this is when I can produce new words best, plus my mind is fresh and less distracted by other projects, collegial conversations, ideas, meetings, and teaching.
Tip 3: Map your projects
This tip came from a dear colleague of mine, @jod999, who sat me down a few years ago for a serious conversation about mapping projects to build research capacity. I have several charts on my whiteboard in my office and on digital spreadsheets that I use to map my projects. This helps me project manage myself across a variety of areas – it also gives me permission to put aside some details as I know I have accurate records to come back to. I also apply this to publications to track write up, submission, review, proof and publication stages. The mapping is especially helpful when collaborating with others to assist in my contribution and meeting deadlines.
Tip 4: Busyness activities are not the focus
Last year I spent a day with a consultant at a professional learning opportunity for women in higher education. The top tip shared during this day was that everything you do should align to your KPIs (key performance indictors) as this is what has been defined by the institution one is working at as areas for focus. I found this tip incredibly valuable as it allowed me to become aware of busyness activities that take me away from research, teaching, and leadership responsibilities.
Tip 5: Learn to say “no”
This one is a work in progress as I can get carried away with exciting ideas but I have to remember “no” is not a bad word when committing to a project as it means I am not taking time away from those that I have already committed to.
What are your top tips for managing your time while working in higher education?