Friday, December 29, 2017

Time Management of the first year of Professoring

This year I have been diligent about logging my time with Toggl. It is a way to get a feeling for how much time I have spent on various activities. Obviously it is only as good as my log habits so it is not terribly fine grained but it does give me a picture on what I have spent a lot of time and on which activities I spent a reasonable amount.

First shocker: I logged on average 60 hours a week this year. No wonder I felt less than 100% efficient! That is impossible to keep up for even 40! So yeah. That is a first thing I would like to change if possible. Lower the number of hours working. And focus more when I do.

Secondly, here is the breakdown of the full year:

Percentages can be computed out of the 3000 hr I logged. Not a lot of the logged time is not work but some of the gray "other" is house purchases or "sad lunch by myself".
Note how much time telescope/grant proposal writing ate up. Now some of that effort is recyclable: the observing proposal becomes the introduction to the paper on the data or similar but it is a remarkable amount of time. With varying return of course. I spent a lot of time on NASA NSPIRES proposals (including getting them submitted by our budget office) and nothing to show for it.
I like proposal writing but this is a lot of time spent trying to get photons/$$. May need to learn how to streamline it some more. Or better triage up front.

Science is not just me sciencing or writing papers. This category includes telecoms about scientific project: the LADUMA PI telecom, the LSST telecom etc. And converting student reports into publishable papers. So that is all science but may not feel all the time like sciencing.

I doubts the commitment for teaching is going to go down anytime soon. I have set up my courses the way I want them organized but now comes fixing the bugs I noticed teaching these classes for the first time. And of course a lot of the teaching/prep category is simply grading and admin. Neither of those show any promise of going faster.

I did a similar post earlier after 6 months. It looks similar. I do object to the 60hr/week though. That needs fixing. Suggestions as to how are very welcome.


  1. Hi, Benne! First, congrats on your first year! We have met at a conference in Cambridge a few years back.

    I have finished my forth year of professoring, and the advice I wanted to have had in my first year was to read "Advice for New Faculty Members", by Robert Boice. I only read it last year. It is a long-winded read, but it has many invaluable lessons and it has helped me immensely, especially as regards teaching. And, once teaching is in check, it is much easier to set aside thinking time for research and set boundaries for personal matters.

    Happy to chat about other ideas too. Cheers!

  2. Hi Benne! Very interesting that you logged this information! As well all know, academy can potentially eat up to 100% of one's time...