Time Management for Profs Who Hate Time Tracking
This is for those of you who HATE time tracking. Because you’re too creative. Your job is too unpredictable. You don’t believe in time as we know it….whatever your reason.
The only commodity you have as a scientist or physician is your time. And if you aren’t controlling your time with an iron fist, you will see your 50 hour work week balloon into burnout faster than you can say ‘I need a sabbatical.’
Try these three things and you will see your perception of time change immediately.
First: get a smart phone or iPad and install 30/30 by Binary Hammer. This simple, attractive interface will swallow your to-do list and allow you to assign times for all your jobs. Reply to emails…30 minutes. Write a review? 60 minutes. Then as you start each job, start your timer and go. Simple. There are two immediate benefits – First, you will be single tasking – it’s the new multitasking, but you actually get things done. You will pour all your focus into one job. You’ll keep yourself on task and be reluctant to engage in protracted ‘office door’ conversations that really need a meeting, not a minute.
The other benefit is that you will likely not get some jobs done. This will be frustrating as all get out, but a valuable lesson. I know that the next time I’m asked to write a review of a paper, it’s going to take me 2 or 3 hours, not an hour, I will be a lot more reluctant to start that on a Sunday night.
Second: Have a lab/group huddle every morning with your team. As close to first thing in the morning as your group can muster, be in their space for 20 minutes. Everyone in your group should show up, and if there are questions, it give you a chance to hear what your team is up to and identify areas you can help. Here’s an important new step to the huddle….share what you are doing with your team. They are cloning flying monkeys? Outstanding. We have a protocol for that. You are writing four grant reviews, two letters of recommendation and doing your budget for the next grant. Your team needs to know what your job looks like too. Otherwise, you’re just the person in your office with too much coffee who scowls at a computer screen a lot. Don’t ‘just’ be that person.
Third: Spend 5 minutes at the end of the day using the 5-3-1 sheet. Use this handy print out in conjunction with your calendar to know what you’re REALISTICALLY going to do the next day. You get one top priority item, three medium priority ones and five wee things that you need to get done.