As a graduate student, I was never aware at how many different hats a professor must wear. Here is a list of the different roles I am currently playing:
- Calculus Instructor
- Linear Algebra Instructor
- Math Society co-advisor
- Putnam coach
- New Building Committee member
- Textbook author
- Thesis advisor to one student
- Reader of a senior thesis to another
- Major advisor to six students
- Group Theory Seminar organizer
- Chair of Committee on Math Education Curriculum
- Member of committee to hire new faculty member
I am probably forgetting some, but this is not unusual for a professor. On top of this, professors regularly give talks at different venues; this is sporadic, but it takes a considerable amount of time to prepare the talks.
I have been working on ways to do all of these jobs well, and to do all of these jobs in a stress-free way. Here is what I have come up with:
- I do a lot of what is suggested in Getting Things Done. This is been the single most effective thing for my productivity, particularly with the “stress-free” part.
- I have started heavily scheduling activities in my calendar. A typical day includes time for my classes, time for research, time for internet, and time to meet with students. I schedule three 30 minute internet sessions. I do not keep them well, but it has had the effect of limiting my time-wasting on the web.
- Jason Buell wrote about how Jerry Seinfeld would put an X on the calendar for every day that he wrote. Once he had a chain of X’s going, he wanted to keep writing so that he does not break the chain. I have started doing this with research; I have a chain of 9 right now.
- I have started running to and from school. I typically run every day except Wednesday, which is when I bike/drive in with clean clothing and fresh food for the next week. This allows me to run 9 miles each day, but the running only takes 40 minutes longer than driving would. So I get a 9 mile workout in only 40 minutes (note: I normally cannot run 9 miles in 40 minutes).
- I now wake up at 5 am. I work for two hours, take care of my son for 45 minutes when he wakes up at 7 am, and then run to work. I just started this today, but I got a lot done between 5 am and 7 am. This has the added bonus that my entire family now goes to bed at the same time. (I am normally a night owl, so this is a bit of a painful switch; however, I am less productive at night—I am a night owl because I have more fun at night—so working in the morning works well for me).
Tips and suggestions are always welcome in the comments.