Pre-tenure faculty need to conserve their limited time and energy for high impact activities that matter most for tenure and promotion. Here’s how to choose professional opportunities more wisely.
Feeling like a fish out of water in your first couple of years as an assistant professor is completely normal. But if you’d like to feel a little more like you know what you’re doing (by the way, you’re doing great!), these five books are a good place to start.
The best strategy for earning tenure is deceptively simple: do deep work on promotable tasks on a regular basis. It’s simple because it’s fairly easy to understand why those who employ this strategy tend to have strong tenure files. It’s deceptive because implementing this strategy is hard.
Instead of viewing rest as something that gets in the way of their success, faculty should take a cue from professional athletes who view high performance and rest as two sides of the same coin.
Teaching and service are gaseous in the sense that they will take up as much space as you give them. If you aren’t careful, you won’t have enough left over to devote to research, or you’ll end up working around the clock to fit it all in.
Being productive does mean maximizing activity, it means optimizing activity. It’s less about how many hours you work, and more about how you use your working hours. Instead of doing more things, focus on doing the right things in the right way.
Success isn’t just about setting goals. Goals are important, but without a system for achieving them, you’re less likely to succeed.
There are real cognitive constraints on how much new information students can remember and for how long. Covering a high volume of material at a break-neck pace stacks the deck against knowledge retention by producing learning conditions that favor forgetting.
In my first two years on the tenure track, I worked all of the time, but usually not on the right things.
I spent way too much time on teaching, and sacrificed my evenings and weekends (and sleep) to research. I didn’t exercise, or pursue hobbies, or make friends, or eat well. I was stressed, and exhausted, and lonely. Plus, I developed a back problem from too many hours hunched over my laptop! Ouch!
I know now that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can earn tenure without working yourself into the ground. Instead of repeating my mistakes, I want to help you learn from them.