GTD for academics

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rickla

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Mar 9, 2005, 9:41:47 PM3/9/05
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This is related to a recent thread about teachers and GTD but somewhat
different, so I've decided to start a new thread.

Work at a university can typically be divided into 4 categories:
research, teaching, admin, and community service. Teaching is in a way
the easiest category. Usually, there's a class meeting every week,
everyone knows when exams are held, syllabi have to be submitted a
month or two in advance, so in the past I've made do by keeping a
folder for every group of students and a teaching notebook that I take
to every class. As long as I remember to keep notes in the notebook
and review them, it kind of takes care of itself. Having said that,
some of the ideas in the teaching thread did get me thinking that
there might be better ways to handle this category. In particular, I
think I often spend too much time on the teaching, causing me to
neglect research.

The real problem categories for me are research and admin. I have the
counterproductive habit of thinking of admin things as annoying and
disruptive, with the result that I tend to veer towards two extremes.
One is to say to myself that I'm not going to be able to do any "real
work" until I get every real and conceivable admin task out of the
way, which leads me to neglect research. The other extreme is to say
that I did a lot of routine work last week and I've had enough and I'm
going to spend the next few weeks doing research only, leading me to
neglect some vital task.

In a way, these are problems that canonical GTD is designed to solve.
But it's also true that research is the only thing for which time
isn't built in to academics' schedules. As David Allen says in Ready
for Anything, if your tires need changing, they just need changing,
and the fact that they aren't important things in a cosmic sense isn't
relevant. While recognizing this, I feel that some special measures
are needed, both to keep the general work of research moving forward
(ordering books, reading papers, keeping reference database
up-to-date, etc.) and to handle deadlines for submission of papers and
proposals. About this last point, as many people have pointed out GTD
is good at handling small jobs that need to be done "as soon as
possible", also good with things that need to be done ON a certain
date, but not quite so good with things that need to be done BY a
certain date.

Any ideas?

Rick

Jeff Kenton

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Mar 10, 2005, 7:28:18 AM3/10/05
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Rick,

I think a great amount of "what's important" will be different
depending on the context in which you work.

I'm an assistant professor at a comprehensive university. That means
my effort is generally arrayed as such: 75% on teaching, 20% on
research and 5% on service to community, university and profession.

Aside from that, would there be interest in starting a GTD_Academic
discussion group? I think there could be some decent potential for
discussing the issues that are in many ways unique to academic work.
The only issue would be: is there a critical mass of people who would
discuss any given topic?

Just curious.

Jeff


On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 11:41:47 +0900, rickla <rickl...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> This is related to a recent thread about teachers and GTD but somewhat
> different, so I've decided to start a new thread.
>
> Work at a university can typically be divided into 4 categories:
> research, teaching, admin, and community service. Teaching is in a way
> the easiest category.

--
All intellectual improvement arises from leisure - Samuel Johnson

Betsy Schwartz

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Mar 10, 2005, 9:31:34 AM3/10/05
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On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 07:28:18 -0500, Jeff Kenton <jke...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Aside from that, would there be interest in starting a GTD_Academic
> discussion group?

Sounds like GTD-faculty to me :-) just thought I'd pipe up since I'm
academic *staff* which is of course a different thing (and at some
schools, seems like a different planet sometimes...)

Michael Langford

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Mar 10, 2005, 12:42:14 PM3/10/05
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I think that would be interesting. I'm currently at a pure research
post, but am planning on going back for academic forays occasionally,
as well as most of the research type things would definitly apply to
me. (Publishing is usually optional in my line of work).

--Michael


On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 07:28:18 -0500, Jeff Kenton <jke...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
--
Michael Langford --- 404-386-0495
The people who get what they want in this world are the people who get
up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find
them, make them. --George Bernard Shaw

Michael Langford

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Mar 10, 2005, 12:47:16 PM3/10/05
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>not quite so good with things that need to be done BY a
certain date.

There is another book linked to from Merlin's site called "The Now
Habit". It has something called a reverse schedule in it. That is
excellent for getting me to start on tasks that have a due date
earlier than I would without doing the reverse schedulde.

The technique in a nutshell is to take the object that's due, and
write down the time and date that its done. Then write out, in reverse
order, all the tasks you have to perform to get it done, and when
you'd have to start each of these tasks to be able to do the task
after them.. All of a sudden a paper that you have to submit on April
14 requires you to do serious work by March 10th. This works well
then when you see it on the next action list, because you realize hey,
I need to get my analysis done within the next 5 days to make that
paper publication.

--Michael

RJ

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Mar 10, 2005, 1:33:21 PM3/10/05
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I also work as an assistant professor at a university and do social
science. Roughly half of my time is teaching/admin, and the other half
research.

I have not read David Allen (too much reading to do), but do find GTD
interesting. Constantly looking for ways and tools to balance
efficiency and creativity in my work.

I would find time to read a GTD-forum for academics, though.

rickla

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Mar 10, 2005, 7:42:20 PM3/10/05
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Interesting idea. I'd be into it. But like you say there's no way of
knowing whether there'd be enough people to keep it going.
Alternatively, maybe we could take over this group (ha, ha).

rickla

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Mar 10, 2005, 7:51:16 PM3/10/05
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I'm glad you reminded me of that book, which I bought because of the
link on Merlin's site but haven't really put into practice yet. I guess
that's the way to do it.

While we're talking about useful adjuncts to GTD, another useful book I
found was "Write it down, Make it happen". Sorry, don't have the book
with me so I'm not sure about the author. Maybe Henriette Krause?

rickla

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Mar 10, 2005, 7:55:29 PM3/10/05
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In what ways? No research budget? Not invited to faculty meetings? I
guess if you're involved in research at all it would be kind of
relevant...

Josh Rothman

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Mar 10, 2005, 8:38:42 PM3/10/05
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I'd be interested in a GTD Academic group (I'm a graduate student in
English Literature).

John SJ Anderson

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Mar 10, 2005, 9:32:45 PM3/10/05
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On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 07:28:18 -0500, Jeff Kenton <jke...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Aside from that, would there be interest in starting a GTD_Academic
> discussion group?

I'd be interested in reading the _content_ from a GTD_Academic group,
but I think a decent number of non-academic people on this list would
be interested in it too -- so why not just keep it on this list? The
blending that happens on the 43F list, due to the Mac-heads bouncing
off the *nix pushers and the GTDistas bonding with the Coveyites is a
great deal of the fun and the value of the list. I'd sure if it gets
too far out of line or off-topic, Brother Merlin will be along with
the smackdown, but until then, why not enjoy melting in the pot with
the rest of us?

john,
one of them there adjunct faculty/teaching mercenary types.

--
genehack.org * weblog == ( bioinfo / linux / opinion / stuff )

Josh Rothman

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Mar 10, 2005, 9:52:38 PM3/10/05
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Yeah, this is definitely true. I would, however, be interested in
'productivity for professors'--e.g., how do you keep focused on reading
huge stacks of books? What strategies have you developed for
note-taking? For idea generation? For filing? Etc.?

I started down this road a little with my "Keeping a 'Commonplace
Book'" thread from a while back--I'd love to hear more of it.

Todd

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Mar 10, 2005, 10:48:46 PM3/10/05
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> Aside from that, would there be interest in starting a GTD_Academic
> discussion group? I think there could be some decent potential for
> discussing the issues that are in many ways unique to academic work.
> The only issue would be: is there a critical mass of people who would
> discuss any given topic?

Yes please. I am a Ph.D. student, but my schedule too is divided
between teaching and research. I think I would benefit for hearing from
others in academia.

Scott

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Mar 10, 2005, 10:59:42 PM3/10/05
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So,
The interest is there, and the consensus seems to be to keep it in 43F.

What's the next action?

Jeff Kenton

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Mar 11, 2005, 7:22:11 AM3/11/05
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For me, the next action would be to start discussing academic topics
on this forum. However, for ease of reading, I'd suggest putting ACAD
or some similar keyword in the subject line. (I want to see the
messages on this topic very easily, in other words.)

simper2

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Mar 11, 2005, 9:10:44 AM3/11/05
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I'm interested, too--I'm an assistant professor of English at a liberal
arts college. The ACAD tag for related threads sounds good to me.

Erik

Jeffrey C.Long

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Mar 11, 2005, 1:02:07 PM3/11/05
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Start talking.

Jeffrey C.Long

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Mar 11, 2005, 12:59:58 PM3/11/05
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I agree with the suggestion that the academics see if they can keep
their discussion inside 43folders. I'm a pastor with a teaching
certificate and 9 years of work in a public school. My brain would
benefit from the stimulation of hearing how academics are processing
their inputs and their schedules/committments. In some ways, each of
our work is unique, but in many ways we are all dealing with the same
issues, so eavesdropping on each other's work is helpful.

Jeffrey
je...@jeffreyclong.com
http://www.jeffreyclong.com

Some years ago, NASA released the first deep-space photographs of the
beautiful cloud-swirled blue-green agate we call Earth. A reporter
showed one of them to the late Samuel Shenton, then president of
International Flat Earth Research Society. Shenton studied it for a
moment and said, “It's easy to see how such a picture could fool the
untrained eye.”

Jeffrey C.Long

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Mar 11, 2005, 12:47:28 PM3/11/05
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On Mar 10, 2005, at 5:51 PM, rickla wrote:

> I'm glad you reminded me of that book "The Now Habit," which I bought
> because of the
> link on Merlin's site but haven't really put into practice yet.

<giggle> oh the irony.

Jeffrey
je...@jeffreyclong.com
http://www.jeffreyclong.com

ehd

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Mar 12, 2005, 10:52:05 AM3/12/05
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Me to. I would also like to start a GTD-Academic group. However, I
would hate to break apart from 43Folders.

ehd

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Mar 12, 2005, 10:55:03 AM3/12/05
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One of the best books on the subject, if not the best, are by Robert
Boice. He is particularly strong on (a) how to write publications
sucessfully without procrastination and in manageable chunks of ONLY 30
minutes per day and (b) how to teach effectively without overwhelming
yourself and your students. I would highly recommend his book on First
Principles of Teaching and his several books on writing and writer's
block. Excellent. His approach also fits very well with the GTD
philosophy, with current Macintosh tools, and should be part of a
GTD-Academic List.

William Neumann

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Mar 13, 2005, 1:08:47 AM3/13/05
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On Sat, 12 Mar 2005 07:52:05 -0800, ehd <eric.d...@comcast.net> wrote:

> Me to. I would also like to start a GTD-Academic group. However, I
> would hate to break apart from 43Folders.


Add another voice to the crowd that would like to see some GTD/ACAD
talk here on the list. As a Ph.D. student who, after *cough* many
years of procrastinating actually started working on his research
--only without a good organization plan-- I had been finding myself
spiraling into a pit of ugliness. I was progressively getting less
done at work, less done in my research, and finding myself spending
more nights half comatose on the couch as the piles of crap started
mounding up around me.

Finally, last week I dusted off my Life Balance license, started
reading a bit about GTD online (still not sure I like the whole
approach, but much of it sounds promising) and started attacking
things in a more organized way. So far it's gone pretty well, my
bedroom and kitchen are actually clean and only take a few minutes a
day to maintain (next in line: master bath and living room), I've got
all of my papers tucked in DEVONthink, rather than spread across my
file system (next up: entering them into Bibdesk), and work is... well
work hasn't changed, as I've yet to really attack that part of my
life. Still, I've a long way to go (hell, just today I got around to
going through the posts to this group for the past 8 weeks...), and
I'd appreciate any tips 'n' tricks that others may be able to share
here...
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