Making Time for Research
Money, students, and lab equipment are all for naught if you can't make the time to pursue your research program. Robert Boice, in his studies of highly successful new faculty members, found that they all made time for research, right from the beginning of their academic careers -- even if, at first, they could only find a few minutes each day (Boice, 2000, p. 105).
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Resources: books and articles
- Section II: Write in Mindful Ways, pp. 103-202 from Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil Nimus, by Robert Boice.
- Keeping Your Research Alive. This article by Rick Reis, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, includes advice about how to prioritize your research.
Postings from Rick Reis' "Tomorrow's Professor" Mailing List
- Establishing Your Absence: (more info) Make large blocks of time for research (and maybe find collaborators) by being absent from campus.
- Quick Starters: (more info) Robert Boice studied 415 new tenure-track faculty in their first few years of teaching; he found that 21 of them were "quick starters" -- highly successful, right from the start. (Boice, 2000, p. 5.) Learn what makes them so.
- First Things First: (more info) Make time for important things, like research, in the face of more urgent, but not necessarily more important, tasks.
- Warm-up Time: (more info) Minimize the amount of time you spend reminding yourself what you were working on, when you left off....
- Faculty Time Savers: (more info) Make the most of the time you spend.
Tips from Early Career Workshop Alums
- As a new faculty member, I found it difficult to get a lot of research done. However, I incorporated my research into the upper-level geology classes that I offer as either full semester projects or a month-long project. This helped me to accomplish a few goals: 1) got students involved in research, which they found fun and different than other classes they typically take because this is a different, more involved learning process, 2) gave me seed data to write proposals, and 3) made me keep up on recent geology literature.
- Set aside blocks of time to do what is important, e.g., "research time."
- Make a plan and stick to it; be sure to have check points fairly often.
- Adopt a system that gives you control of your work space (e.g., have meetings outside of your office; don't have comfy chairs readily available for the dept. chatterbox, etc.).
- Write or read articles pertaining to [your] research each day—even if it is only for half an hour...connect with your work each day.
- Work on research EVERY DAY, even if it's only for a few (5) minutes. This is from Boice's "Advice to New Faculty Members." When I do manage this, for days or weeks at a time, it feels great and I can see the results. I also find this works best if I set aside time at the BEGINNING of my day, rather than at the end, when I am apt to be tired and unproductive. When I'm stressed for time, I try to remember that I can always spare 5 minutes.
- Find a mentor in your department or school to help with time management issues.