Posts Tagged ‘GTD’

Checklists

August 28, 2020

Classes start on Monday. We are on the block schedule right now, and I don’t teach in the first block (except for a weekly class on Wednesdays). I am grateful for a bit of extra time, although I am almost done planning—I need about four more good days before my class is completely done.

Here are two of my favorite things I have done in the past ten years with respect to course planning.

  1. I keep a text file in my course’s folder named NextTime.txt. Here is where I keep notes on what I would change for next time—perhaps I have a mistake in a set of solutions, or my grading system is too lenient, or I find a textbook that I really want to look at. The next time I teach the course, I just copy the folder, and I look first at NextTime.txt to see what I should be thinking about.
  2. I always make a huge checklist of things to do for the class. When I start planning for a class, I copy the old one and modify it. Only once I have a global view of what needs to be done do I start actually working on the class.

My to-do list for Calculus II is below. It is not edited for your convenience, so I think that not everything will make sense. I put an “X ” at the beginning of the line when I have completed it, and then I move it to the bottom of the page (I think do a find-and-replace to delete these when I start planning a new version of the course). Also, “tickle” comes from the idea of a tickler file—these are the things that I know I will need to remind myself of when the course actually happens.

Enjoy!

————————————————-
IN-CLASS OUTCOME PRACTICE PROBLEMS/ESP PROBLEMS
D1: I1 Separable I2 IBP
D2: I3 Slicing
D3: A1 Approximate Integration/A2 Euler
D4: I4 Improper
D5: S1 DCT/S2 Integral Test
D6: S3 power series
D7: A3 Taylor poly
D8: E1 Error integration/E2 Taylor error
Work through trapezoidal rule error bound
D9: S4 epsilon-N
D10: I5 Double

D11: O1 Optimize 3D function
D12:
Math 120: Fourier, 1-variable wave equation, series solutions
D13:
\sigma(n) is sum of positive integers that divide n; Let H_n be 1+1/2+1/3+…+1/n. Is the following true for n \geq 1? sigma(n) \leq H_n+ln(H_n)e^{H_n}? Jeffrey Lagarias proved this is equivalent to the Riemann Hypothesis.
D14:
D15;
————————————————-
SOLUTIONS FOR QUIZZES
————————————————-
TICKLE
Daily engagement question
Close breakout rooms automatically (and lower countdown from 60 seconds to 20–30 seconds)
Policy: ask questions in chat
Day 1: use collaborations
Run through Piazza set-up on Piazza
Update rosters in gradebook (Spreadsheet and Google Drive)
Create Teams on Saturday before class; email class about who gets to go to class on Monday
set up Collaborations once we have the teams
Uncover new quiz
Add problems to collaboration spaces
Move Modules to top
Check Perusall
Change Missing Pacework This Week on Mondays in gradebook
Put Pacework in spreadsheet and Canvas
Do Daily video in response to Muddiest Point
Office hours from 9–10 every day
Add CAs and CA OH to “Teaching Staff” section in syllabus
Monday for Pacework tokens (and last day of class)
Daily 3-2-1-Go engagement question
Tickle 3-2-1 go for all problems
X Detailed class plan? ( 20 minutes Tutorial Q&A (to 20 min), 10 minutes new Learning Outcome problems Individual (to 30 min), 15 minutes new Learning Outcomes team (to 45 min), 10 minutes solutions (to 55 minutes), 5 minute break (to 60 minutes) 10 minutes Individual ESP (to 70 min), 25 minutes ESP Small teams (to 95 min), 20 minutes large group ESP (to 115 min), 10 minute break (to 125 min), 35 minute project (to 160 min), 10 minute outro Q&A (to 170 min), 10 min OH (to 180 min));
Tickle challenge problems
Add TA to Canvas
python random call
Create teams after CCI, tickle when to do new teams, or
Daily: Grade muddiest point, schedule assignment, each LO Assignment
Tickle: Grade projects
Put conversation opportunities in front of them (at each week, offer them a chance to meet with you via, say, a 10 minute phone call)
Create Guided Practice
Team based learning?
Create Mazur-type real-world problems—you know the outcome you want, but you don’t know how to achieve it; these should be Significant, Same problem, Specific choice, Simultaneous reporting (NOT THIS SEMESTER)
in class projects
Emily’s discussion roles: have the students analyze roles (interrupter, facilitator, challenging, etc). Do this in TBL in particular.
Have students do 2 examples: once correctly, then once incorrectly. Then have students identify wrong ones

Due dates for all homework (MyOpenMath, Projects/Drafts, Homework, Journals)
Solutions for quizzes (TA just uses videos—better that way, since TA understands problem better)

Print Team Rosters for folders
Make Team Folders
Make sure that A,B,C,etc options are in Folders
Do video comments on grading

Check Piazza a lot
Tickle: create muddiest point assignment in Piazza each day
Turn camera off to support Zoom burnout, ask students to start with camera off (more private, allows for better connections) and turn on cameras/microphones only if comfortable

Python: Make daily task reminder sheet (Update Canvas)
MWF: Bring laptop for PollEverywhere, Change Canvas
M: Tickle “Market/review/sell grading system”
T: Post Quiz solutions after 2:25 pm
W:
R:
F: Update Gradebook, Check MyOpenMath

Tickle post quiz solutions
Put solutions in the right place
Bring laptop for PollEverywhere
Tickle Bring area function worksheets
Tickle bring Gateway practice worksheets
Tickle update Gradebook each week before email goes out

Tickle Start all python programs
Tickle get quizzes to Wilmot (either once or weekly)
Tickle make tRandom
Tickle adjust for loops in grade email python program if students add/drop
Tickle add names and emails to spreadsheet
Tickle mutt .alias file
Tickle Put teams in Peer Evaluations on Canvas
Tickle Print rosters (331, too)
Tickle start grade update email on cron
Tickle CA (Gateways and Quizzes)
Tickle Make Teams on First Day
Tickle Precalc MOMHW due on 9/19; check morning 9/20 for 100%
Tickle Team Tests are 25 points each
Tickle bring Team Tests
Tickle “do peer assessments” (one practice by 10/12, one that matters by 12/13)
Tickle Precalc MOMHW due on 10/17; check morning 10/18 for 50%
Tickle “do midterm evaluations on Forms Manager” https://www.csbsju.edu/forms/IWHN2KIIM9
Tickle “It is harder to teach this way (closer to evals)”
————————————————-
OTHER
Intro video about me and course (essential questions and my passion)
Due dates for projects
3 drafts of Covid 19 Project
2 drafts of Sagatagan project
4 drafts of the integration individual project
Assign each team member to a different individual project
Have students work on their integral for 10 minutes on the first day; if they solve it, convince their team
Fix closed captioning
Convert PDFs to htmls via XML
Daily social justice idea
Mathographies of current mathematicians
————————————————-
X LEARNING GOALS
————————————————-
ASSESSMENTS
X Journal
X Math 120: Weekly portfolio: review work, claim standards
X Muddiest Point/Schedule
X Have them write journals on how they view themselves as a mathematician/metacognitive stuff
X https://www.francissu.com/post/7-exam-questions-for-a-pandemic-or-any-other-time
X Journal on learning goals (as opposed to learning outcomes)

X MyOpenmMath
X myopenmath.com (organize by day?)
X My OpenMath Assignments

X Specs/Rubrics (general for Take-Home Quiz, Journal, MyOpenMath, Projects)

X Goal-less problems
X Students submit videos, Video creation: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10511970.2017.1396568, FlipGrid?
X Homework/Quizzes/Exams
X Homework solutions for Canvas
X Video solutions (Accessibility)
X daily graded homework (do n, I give feedback on n-k)
X Final exam?
X Create sample learning goals/quiz/tagging
X Make sample quiz with tagging
X Do labels, no labels, or combination on quizzes (Default is “no labels;” but they can be labelled, in which case there is no other possible credit)
X Come up with codes for the goals

X Proof Problems
X Write Challenge/Proof Problems (include oral exam at the end) for A

General
X Explicitly tie task to learning outcomes
X Give students choices
X Grade shorter, more frequently with rubrics (three levels for struggling student/average student/excellent student, then give 3 sentences of details)
X Redo assignment list when done

X Projects
X Give them intermediate due dates (drafts)
X Come up with a Team Capstone project for last couple of weeks/end of unit (wine glass? Then Gabriel’s horn (smallest surface area to volume ratio) Use the digits 1–9 at most once to maximize \int_a^b x^n dx; Use digits 1–9 to get the derivative of f(x)=ax^d+bx^e+ce^x to be close to 1205 as possible, )
X Students submit videos
X Write up 118: Find messy, real-life projects for them (use calculus and real data to predict how many people will live in Minnesota in the year 2300; use calculus and real data predict US GDP in 2300, Use calculus and Google Earth to figure out how big of an area CSB and SJU are (separately), Use calculus and real world data to minimize the amount of money you need to spend on heating, cooling, and insulation for a new home (how much insulation should you put in?), use calculus and real-world data to predict number of walleye in Mille Lacs in 2050. Use Calculus and real world data to determine how to save the most money over 10 years/20 years/30 years/50 years with a mortgage
X TEAM: Covid 19: adapt Euler’s method to predict how many cases on December 31, 2021; predict total number of cases (numerical int), need model parameters, estimate error on both #cases and cumulative #cases.
X TEAM: Pump out koi pond and lake sagatagan (work—how much money?)
X DO NOT DO: INDIVIDUAL: Series solution to ODE: Fail, numerical solution with estimation, Taylor with estimation
X INDIVIDUAL: Movement. Integrate \int_0^1 e^{x^2}. Fail, numerical solution with estimation, Taylor with estimation (note large movement with different methods, and local movement with better approximations/more terms)
X Put in Portfolium assignments into courses
————————————————-
SYLLABUS
X Prepared and engaged/Grade the IFAF
X Quizzes only test CORE (grade accordingly)
X Tokens for extra video attempts (make expensive)
X Student Hours, not Office Hours
X Don’t give feedback on all of it, but tell students why you aren’t giving feedback on everything)
X Make due dates Tuesday at 1 pm so that they don’t feel the pressure to cheat (vs Sunday at midnight)
X OpenStax volumes 2 and 3 (not much of 3)
X remind.com (you can text to them)
X Tell them how you want to communicate with me
X TEMP: Change syllabi from youcanbook.me to Starfish (when ready)
X “if you are here, you belong here.”
X Grading DoMs section
X Tokens (5?)
X Put General Education learning outcomes on syllabus
X CCI/Calc-Readiness (put on DoM sheet, too)
X Final from 10:45–12:45 on Thursday, 12/14
X Precalc myopenmath
X 119 myopenmath
X Quizzes (DoMs—include project/Walk’s videos)
X Grades are based on # of DoMs
X Peer evaluation multiplier
X State what is on gateways in syllabus (implicit for Derivatives, trig for 119, not trig for 118)
X Write sections for each assessment
X Make generic class schedule (2G/1B, discuss all problems/solutions, presentations (Bret talks about all results), “thanks,” quiz)
X Add proofs to syllabus
X Put “don’t” study into syllabus, first day slides (http://www.ipsative.com/blog/10)
X Explain grading philosophy in syllabus
X Incorporate WolframAlpha so that students can practice and check their answers
X In syllabus, explain what office hours are for
X Put make-up quiz policy in syllabus (no make-ups)
X Figure out how many quizzes are sufficient
X Decide on final learning goals
X Syllabus: grading is quizzes (including team-based stuff), project (unstructured, real-life, messy one?), proofs (later: Rats?, Peer Assessment, Proof Problems, Project, some sort of team-based HW thing?)
X mutt .alias file
X TA Gradebook
X python email
X Put learning outcomes/CC/IC outcomes, S-U grading, legalese on syllabus
X “This is the plan, up until it is no longer the plan.”
————————————————-
X Use pandoc for slides
X Require mic and headphones?
X PreTeXt? (no—pandoc)
X Testing effect (every day)
X Worked examples (6.2,6.4, 6.5, 7.8, 8.2, 11.4)
X Sage/Python
X Talk about MOVEMENT (estimation to a better approximation)
X Read with Perusall; a few videos to help
X Don’t worry about content; instead, focus on interactions
X 3 most important: access, assessment, inclusion
X Assume they are using a phone (91% of people near St Cloud have a phone; poverty to 200% poverty is 96%)
X Assume asynchronous (then f2f/synchronous is optional)
X Time-shifted:
X Flipped classroom (new information on their own, practice with us)
X Get them away from the device—have them communicate with a bank, for instance, and then have them come back to Canvas
X -Universal design—give students multiple ways to learn and multiple ways to demonstrate what they know
X -GET RID of “respond once and respond with two of your colleagues.” Instead, ask students to “advance the conversation.” Give them an open Zoom room.
X Use questions like Minerva: here are the steps of an optimization problem; which steps are incorrect or unclear?
X Do daily RATs?
————————————————-
————————————————-
SYLLABUS UPDATE
X Python Gradebook
X Python Pacework
X Gradebook (including Lifelong Learning eligibility—done with Pacework, at least 35 DoMs)
X Change Specs (pace, project presentations, Lifelong Learning Assignments videos, Quiz)
X Project Specifications
X Whiteboard/markers required?
X Jamboard/docs?
X Detailed class plan? ( 20 minutes Tutorial Q&A (to 20 min), 10 minutes new Learning Outcome problems Individual (to 30 min), 15 minutes new Learning Outcomes team (to 45 min), 10 minutes solutions (to 55 minutes), 5 minute break (to 60 minutes) 10 minutes Individual ESP (to 70 min), 25 minutes ESP Small teams (to 95 min), 20 minutes large group ESP (to 115 min), 10 minute break (to 125 min), 35 minute project (to 160 min), 10 minute outro Q&A (to 170 min), 10 min OH (to 180 min));
X QR Rubric
X Intellectual Property disclaimer
X Perusall Syllabus
X Individual Project
X Monday is MOMWork catchup
X Tutorial Grade
X Fix: Grading and descriptions (challenge problems and entry criteria, tutorials)
X Re-think grading–not RATs (VideoProjects for AB/A after X MOMWork points and X total DoMS, peer review? Team Quiz?)
XX “Keeping Pace” homework instead of MOMWork
X Daily Quiz
X Resubmit previous day’s quiz
X Peer review?
X Change to Homework Assignments
————————————————-
X Google Spreadsheet for TAs
————————————————-
CANVAS
XX Day 1 Assignments
X Read Syllabus, study stuff, set up Piazza
X Video on how to navigate Modules
X Sign up for Piazza (add picture)
X Add your picture to Zoom.
X Sign up for Perusall
X Add picture to Piazza
X Zoom: Require picture
X Read Syllabus
X Read FAQ
X Erica’s Form for making teams
X Do learner autobiography

X D1
X -FAQ area
X Google Jamboard/docs
Zoom: large group: camera and microphone off; breakouts, audio and video are both on (unless you have a bad internet connection)
X Grading
X -“Here is how you can talk to me if you are stressed about the midterm.”
X -INCLUSION: put in specific, intentional conversations where you talk about community in the course
X -minimum expectations for online conduct (ask for student input, change syllabus)
X IT services for Tech Support
X Perusall
X Piazza
X Perusall video

X Piazza set up (folders for LOs muddiestpoint projects Pacework syllabus/course policies, latex how to)
X midterm evals
X Erica’s Quiz
X https://www.geogebra.org/m/nbjfjtpv
X Insert projects into modules where appropriate (continue working on projects)
X Canvas set up (post syllabus, my OH sign up page, learning outcomes, videos, project, etc, read syllabus, SRL stuff) (later semesters: mindmap link, latex help, latex template, Sage help, sagemath link,mind map reminders, buy markers)
X Syllabus
X Do conditional release on assignments
X Tutorial/Tutorial solution the next day
X Collaborations
X Do Days
X Requirements
X Do tutoriiial solutttions
X Prereqs
X Contact Bret (to to Piazza)
X Piazza
X Wolfram alpha link
X MyOpenMath link
X OpenStax Link
X Fix Perusall
X Assignment: look at what is due for the next week
X Everything due at 11:30
X Khan Academy
X Peer Review all quizzes
X Quiz/Peer review the next day
X Lifelong Learning Assignments
X Pacework
X Perusall
Convert LGs, Syllabus, Specs, etc to html
X Lower time pressure (remove all time limits; use analytics to see how long they take; double check super-fast and super-slow students)reate daily canvas plan
X PollEverywhere (not Nearpod) Canvas Technologies, Canvas txt to bring device every day)
X DoM sheet
X Team Test Sheets
X Pffaf’s files on Canvas
X Poll Everywhere (not Nearpod) link
X Bring computers for RATs
X Bring computers for evaluations
X Make Peer Evaluation forms on Canvas
————————————————-
OTHER
X Zoom policies: change breakout room times/countdown times
X Fix closed captioning
X Convert PDFs to htmls via XML
————————————————-
X Create Sage stuff for Eulers/Trap/Midpoint/Simpsons
X Compile video playlist
X Project Plan (in F20Actual)

X Use pandoc for slides
X Require mic and headphones?
X PreTeXt? (no—pandoc)
X Testing effect (every day)
X Worked examples (6.2,6.4, 6.5, 7.8, 8.2, 11.4)
X Sage/Python
X Talk about MOVEMENT (estimation to a better approximation)
X Read with Perusall; a few videos to help
X Don’t worry about content; instead, focus on interactions
X 3 most important: access, assessment, inclusion
X Assume they are using a phone (91% of people near St Cloud have a phone; poverty to 200% poverty is 96%)
X Assume asynchronous (then f2f/synchronous is optional)
X Time-shifted:
X Flipped classroom (new information on their own, practice with us)
X Get them away from the device—have them communicate with a bank, for instance, and then have them come back to Canvas
X -Universal design—give students multiple ways to learn and multiple ways to demonstrate what they know
X -GET RID of “respond once and respond with two of your colleagues.” Instead, ask students to “advance the conversation.” Give them an open Zoom room.
X Use questions like Minerva: here are the steps of an optimization problem; which steps are incorrect or unclear?
X Do daily RATs?
X Due dates for projects
————————————————————–
X “Set of Me” assignment (https://busynessgirl.com/spicing-up-those-introduction-posts/)
X Weinberg’s SIR Method video (for project)
X Close caption videos

X RATS
X study guides for rats
X Create RATs
X Syllabus RAT (with wrong answer)
X Put RATs on Canvas
X Print out RAT questions as back-up
X Create RATs
X Require Whiteboard and markers (add to syllabus?)
X Clean up 120 folder
————————————————-

In Defense of Text-Based GTD Methods

September 20, 2017

Okay, so the title of this post is not fair to Robert Talbert, who talked about why he is going away from a text-based approach to Getting Things Done and went back to using ToDoist. However, this is a post I have been meaning to write for a week, and it fits in perfectly with what Talbert wrote.

Basically, Talbert wrote that he is moving away from a text-based approach to organizing his life (Todo.txt) and back to the ToDoist app. He explicitly said that this is a personal decision, and he is just reporting what works for him. I am going to describe a way that I solved one of the issues he describes in his post.

Background: I organize my word by having a plain text file on my work computer with all of the things I need to do (in part so that I can use with it, which I love). I do not use the Todo.txt method, and I think that I have probably evolved far enough away from Getting Things Done that I should not be referring to my process as GTD at all. However, I evolved from GTD, so there will still be a lot of overlap.

In addition to my text-based ToDo file, I use

  1. I ssh into my work computer to write down things I need to do if I am on a computer.
  2. A hipster PDA to capture ideas when I am away from a computer.
  3. I use a tickler file to capture items that I do not need to work on now.

Talbert’s main problem with Todo.txt involved syncing, and it sounds like a real problem. However, I never expected my hipster PDA to sync, so this is not an issue for me.

Talbert also mentioned that there is no easy way to do recurring tasks in Todo.txt. He talked about looking into cron jobs to take care of this for him, and he decided that he would rather have an app that just works (as Todoist does—you just click a button or two to make it the task keep reappearing regularly).

I opted for the cron job approach, which I explain below.

First, I will describe the old way. I have lists of recurring tasks I need to do every day. For instance, here is a list of tasks that I need to remind myself to do every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, the days that I teach (the details are not important, although it is worth telling you that I teach Math 124 and Math 343 this fall):

343:
Check Canvas for pre-class work at 10 am
Change Dailywork in Canvas
Update Actual Plan
Grade (Daily Homework for sure, maybe other things)0 1 * * 1,3,5 /usr/bin/python Dropbox/HodgePodge/MWFToDo.py

Look at next class’s materials

124:
Collect Daily HW in class, give to TA
Change Dailywork in Canvas
Update Actual Plan
Look at next class’s materials

These are things I need to think about every day I teach. The old way was to print out this list at the beginning of the semester, put it in my tickler for the next MWF, read it, type all of the above items into my text-based ToDo list, put the paper list back into the tickler file corresponding to the next MWF, and then delete the items as I do them.

It occurred to me, though, that I could just have the computer write these tasks to my text-based ToDo list. So I wrote a Python script (called MWFToDo.py) that does it and set a cron job to schedule the Python script (cron is a scheduler for Linux machines).

First, here is my cron job code. I just typed “crontab -e” in a command line and added the following line of code:

0 1 * * 1,3,5 /usr/bin/python Dropbox/HodgePodge/MWFToDo.py

The initial “0 1” means to do “0 minutes after 1 am.” Then next “* *” means do any day of the month (1–31) and any month of the year. The final “1,3,5” means do the first, third, and fifth days of the week (MWF). So “0 1 * * 1,3,5” just means “do something at 1 am every MWF.” What should be done is to run Python (located at /usr/bin/python) on the file at “Dropbox/HodgePodge/MWFToDo.py).

That is it—the computer now runs that Python script every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Python script is below:

with open(“Dropbox/ToDo”, “r+”) as f:
old = f.read() # read everything in the file
f.seek(0) # rewind
f.write( “343:\nCheck Canvas for pre-class work at 10 am\nChange Dailywork in Canvas\nUpdate Actual Plan\nGrade (Daily Homework for sure, maybe other things)\nLook at next class’s materials\n\n124:\nCollect Daily HW in class, give to Joe\nChange Dailywork in Canvas\nUpdate Actual Plan\nLook at next class’s materials\n\n” + old) # write the new line before

Basically, this code (which I stole from someone—probably someone from Stack Overflow) just copies what was already in the ToDo file, prepends my new items for Math 124 and Math 343, and overwrites the old file with both the new information and the old (so it effectively just adds some stuff to the beginning).

This has worked well—my to-do list is ready for me immediately when I get to work, saving me a couple of minutes. In addition to MWFToDo.py, I also have TuesadyToDo.py, WednesdayToDo.py, FridayToDo.py, and MonthlyToDo.py, which all have their own cron job. Notice that both MWFToDo.py and WednesdayToDo.py both run on Wednesdays—to be safe, I just schedule the WednesdayToDo.py at a different time (12:30 am, which is

30 0 * * 1,3,5 /usr/bin/python Dropbox/HodgePodge/WednesdayToDo.py

in crontab, where “12 am” corresponds to the first 0).

I agree with Talbert that this is all personal preference. However, I like my system, I just did this a week before Talbert posted, and this seems to have a nice harmony with what Talbert wrote.

Reducing Stress with Tickler Files

March 25, 2014

I have been annoyed a bit this week with other faculty members who do not reply to email. My best guess is that these faculty members just lose track of the things they need to do (like respond to my email). So as a public service, I have decided to write about the single best thing that has helped me keep track of what I need to do: tickler file.

I learned about the tickler File from David Allen’s Getting Things Done.. A tickler file is essentially a system where you can write notes to your future self. Here are the basics:

  1. A tickler File consists of 43 folders labelled 1–31 and January–August (31+12 months=43).
  2. The folders labelled 1–31 correspond to the next month. So if today is March 25th and I know that I need to call Buffy on March 27th, I simply write “Call Buffy” (ideally with her phone number) on a sheet of scratch paper and put it in the folder labelled “27.”
  3. If I need to call Buffy on June 6th (and today is March 25th), then I write “Call Buffy on June 6th” and put it in the folder labelled “June.”
  4. I check the folder every day; today (March 25th), I checked the “25” folder; tomorrow I will check the “26” folder.
  5. On the first of April, I will check the “April” folder and distribute the notes to the appropriate 1–31 folders. I do a similar thing on the first of every month.

That is basically it. It is not complex, but it prevents me from forgetting about things; more importantly, it reduces my stress, because I know that I will not forget things.

Finally, I use this for things other than simple tasks like “Call Buffy.” I use it to remind myself to start working on a paper, to remember whose birthday it is, and to let me know what I need to do to prepare for class that day. It allows me to put off non-urgent decisions without worrying that I will forget about them.

My wife has started using my tickler file. She asks me to remind her of things that she needs to do if they are more than a month away.

This is a low-cost, high-reward system. You should start using a tickler file if you haven’t already.

Productivity

September 7, 2010

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:

  1. Calculus Instructor
  2. Linear Algebra Instructor
  3. Researcher
  4. Math Society co-advisor
  5. Putnam coach
  6. New Building Committee member
  7. Textbook author
  8. Thesis advisor to one student
  9. Reader of a senior thesis to another
  10. Major advisor to six students
  11. Group Theory Seminar organizer
  12. Chair of Committee on Math Education Curriculum
  13. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.