I bet that title has you wondering where the hell this post is going to go.
First a confession, I’m kind of cheating today. I did write, but what I ‘wrote’ was all the deadlines for all 4 courses I’m enrolled in this term on my calendar. They’re all graduate level, it actually required a ton of typing, and coming up with an abbreviation system to track each course/color coding and scheduling reminders. Then I shut off Facebook. I know a few author friends who should do this more.
A wise dean once said, oh about 5 months ago, that it is time-management that makes or breaks your academic career. He’s totally right, and after flailing for about a month, last term, I figured that out on my own, after a swift kick in the ass (from a teacher, and a friend, then finally myself). So, I’m about to let you in on my bit time-management secret.
It’s called…google calendar.
No joke, that’s it, with Keep, and without Google Tasks – because I haven’t decided if I need it yet or not – I can keep myself on track all term, even with reading lists. Course syllabi are an amazing tool if you actually read them, then program them in and set reminders to keep you on track & ahead of the pile of reading. I like that I can set the alarms various times before the actual due date – it means I procrastinate less. Plus, there are features through Gmail that now let you mark reminders/assign tasks/star things, with links right to the email in them. Use em – they’re amazing.
I do this with clients, myself, and when I train personal assistants. It’s highly customizable, you can make it private, or share it with someone you know will nag you/kick you off Facebook if they see you there too much.
That’s an easy one-off solution to taking a course & scheduling your work/academic life, but what about the uncontrollable things?
I’ve heard too many excuses – people keep tagging me on Facebook, people keep nagging me in emails, people sign me up for things I’ve never heard of, and now I feel obligated. To…but however will I survive making supper without Pinterest?
If you don’t stop, I’ll just have to come have a talking to you, using my stern, very scary, don’t-fuck-with-me voice. Ask people who know me in person, it exists. I can bring the thunder, and I’m pretty good at controlling the storm.
So, for the people who dare to do things that require a stern response, and for those of you, who like me, are nice people, and sometimes struggle to say NO or advocate for ourselves: here are 10 easy things you can pull out of your back pocket.
- Put an automatic 48-hour responder on your email – turn it on, and annoy THE FUCK out of people who expect instant responses. In the business world, 2 days is still standard, and if you’re not a vital service, or working on-call, this is a professional way to let people know how long before they can expect a response from you.
- Close the Facebook tab in your browser. If Facebook is your Achilles heel, make it only available on one device and turn off all the push notifications.
- In fact, CLOSE ALL YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA tabs in your browsers, and use something like HootSuite, if you need to schedule promotional links etc. on your blog/social media.
- If you don’t use social media for work, schedule a single time or two once a day for you to use it – socially. The world (probably) won’t end in the 8 hours you’re not checking crack book. And, if it does? Well, you’ll have more important things to worry about and/or the grid will be off anyway.
- If you’re an author or have to work on social media to promote things for community groups etc., develop office hours for online work/socializing with fans.
- Stick to them, post them online so everyone knows. Don’t sneak in for a few minutes. Schedule it for 15 minutes every hour if you need to, but the more you break your own rules, the more other people will help you break them and/or break them for you.
- Did someone sign you up for something you had no clue about? ROAR. Roar loudly and stand up for yourself. Kindly, but sternly explain that you were unaware you were involved, and ask how they got that impression. Do some digging, and don’t let people take advantage of you.
- If you’re organizing people, promotions, or events – MAKE THE FUCK SURE that you have all the appropriate permissions from the people involved. Do you need to speak with staff, managers, writers, authors, people who have signing authority, can make legally binding agreements? Figure it out before you go off all half-cocked promoting something you haven’t even explained to the people you want to be involved.
- Set limits. Want to volunteer? Think of the things YOU want to do as a volunteer, then dedicate a specific amount of time out of your daily/weekly schedule to it.
- Go offline regularly – put this in your schedule too. If it’s really a problem, put all the electronic hand-held devices in a room for 1/2 an hour a day to start with. Don’t answer the phone, or look at a screen.
Up next on the Naimeless blog? A more detailed post on volunteer management, and how to make online communities and local communities work better together for a common goal.
Hint, It’s all about RESPECT.
Up next in Academia land – a series of articles on being a co-operating teacher, and more reading & gathering quotes. This time for Ethnomusicology!