Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Advice for the tenure track

This piece has some pretty good advice. Some comments on individual items:

1. Quotas. There are a good idea, especially for female faculty who often get showered with invitations for things because organizers want diversity (demographic diversity, that is; there are other kinds of diversity, though you might not know it if you spend all your time in academia) on whatever committee or panel or whatever they are organizing. It is important to adjust the quotas to reflect your likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses. Do more of what you like and less of what you don't like. For example, I could never get by on five trips a year. The one thing to avoid, though, is setting the quotas so low that you irritate your colleagues by not doing your "share" of the scut work. Of course, in a well-functioning department, assistant professors should be mostly shielded from this anyway.

2. The "feel good" email folder is a really great idea. I have two of these, one of which consists only of praise from my dissertation adviser.

3. I agree that it is important to have some fun now. Taking breaks and doing something different can improve morale and clear your mind. Both enhance productivity as well as raising overall utility.

4. I would add that it is important to work smart as well as working hard. Take a very hard look at your work process and be sure that the things you do and the way you do them all pass cost-benefit tests. I observe in myself and in others an occasional tendency to confuse doing something related to work with actually getting work done. These are not the same.

Hat tip: ASAK

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