I’m juggling a lot this semester. I’m not really sure how to balance all of the aspects of my teaching load, and I really want to get some good habits in place now, before things get too crazy. What should I be doing now that will help me manage my time more effectively? 

Sincerely, Out-of-Balance

 

Dear Out-of-Balance,

Don’t worry! Everyone struggles with time management at one time or another. Thankfully, There are several options and strategies you can use to manage all of your responsibilities this semester.

 

Check out the National Center for Faculty Development of Diversity

UD has an institutional subscription to the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Through their site you’ll be able to access webinars and other online support tools to help keep you on track.

Locally, UD has our own UD Faculty Accountability Program. Email Stephanie Kerschbaum, Faculty Coordinator to be added to their mailing list and learn about upcoming programs and opportunities: kersch@udel.edu

 

Use Canvas calendaring for your office hours

In Canvas you can use the Scheduler tool to create appointment groups. Appointment groups create a block of time where students can meet with you. Students can then sign up for your appointment times in their own calendars. After scheduling, the appointment will display on your calendar.

Learn how to enable and use Scheduler.

 

Use the online course development timeline template

If you are thinking of developing an online course, you might be wondering what is a reasonable timeline for launching a course online. A good guideline is allowing at least six months for development. Other factors like whether the course already exists in a face-to-face format, how comfortable you are with the LMS, whether development is a collaborative effort, and (of course) how busy you are with other teaching and research commitments, will all affect the timeline.

Despite the significant time commitment, it is entirely possible to stay on schedule with sufficient planning. We have developed a schedule template for online course development, complete with dates and estimated duration that provides a relatively conservative total of 10 months for course development. Exporting this timeline into Excel will allow you to further customize the schedule to meet your needs. For more information and the template, visit this Professional and Continuing Studies web page.

 

Schedule meetings efficiently, say “no” and deal with your email

Scheduling meetings

  1. Always schedule every bit of your time. Meetings aren’t the only things you should be scheduling on your calendar. Scheduling your whole day will keep you on-task and on-time.
  2. Record all meeting information. Spending time wondering who will be at the meeting, how long it will run or where it will be held is a waste of time. Make sure you get all the information up front and add it to your calendar.
  3. Specify time for pop-up meetings. Schedule a weekly slot for non-regular meetings. When someone asks for your time give them the first available slot. That way you don’t drop everything for these meetings but you still allow time for them.
  4. Give structured time to your graduate students. Ask your graduate students to be prepared with a list of items they want to discuss with you and to take notes as discussions are had and decisions are made. Having them follow up with a summary email never hurts either!

Saying NO

For most people, it is hard to say “no”. However, many of us with that we knew how when we are buried in work and have no possible way to complete it all on time. When presented with a choice on whether to commit to a task, ask yourself:

  • How will this help my research program (and tenure case)?
  • Will this improve my standing in my department or community?
  • How long will this take?
  • What is the deadline?
  • How busy am I during the period when I must devote time to this task?
  • Will this be fun to do?

Your answers to these questions should be mostly favorable for you to take on the task. Keeping a list of your current tasks and priorities nearby will also help you better judge the answers to these questions.

Deal with the never-ending inbox

Constantly reading email is a great way to never get anything of value completed. Here are some ways to be the master of your inbox:

  • Turn off your “you’ve got mail” notification.
  • Schedule time in your day to read email. Twice a day is reasonable. Do not give into the urge to read everything as soon as it comes in.
  • Keep your inbox empty. Emails you have read need to be categorized right away so they don’t waste your time and space in your inbox. Read messages should be
    • deleted or moved to another folder
    • answered and deleted, or moved to another folder
    • turned into a task and moved to the task list or your calendar

Need more tips? Check out this article from Carnegie Mellon for more details on these suggestions.

Need help? Faculty Commons Partners are here to help! Give us a call at (302)831-0640 or stop by 116 Pearson Hall, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. 

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