PlannerAs an unbelievably busy professor, you need to have some sort of planner if you have any hope, whatsoever, of being productive. You may find an electronic planner, a paper planner, or some combination to be most helpful. Regardless of what fits your work style and life, take the ideas in this article into consideration.

  1. Get used to the idea that any professional needs to have–and know how to use–a planner (either paper or electronic). Somehow, there are some faculty members who think they can just keep information in their heads–or that they don’t “really need a planner.”
  2. Buy a planner that you love (the size, the shape, the paper, the format) so that you take pleasure each time you use it. This applies whether you are using an electronic or a paper planner. There is no one right kind, format, or type–and if you don’t like it or won’t use it, you might as well not have it. So try something, see if it works for you–and if not, try something else. There is something that is “just right” for you and the way you work and live.
  3. Put everything into your planner (names, dates, notes, appointments). Consider it “information central.” Since you will be taking it with you everywhere (see #4), you need to have all the information you use and want to have access to in one handy place. If anything, err on the side of putting too much information in your planner rather than being to spare in your language or recording of notes, numbers, etc.
  4. Take your planner with you everywhere. Have a place for your open planner in your workspace. It’s not much use to have a planner if it’s not with you. Being a professor means that your life and work are merged. You never know when you will need to schedule an appointment, find a phone number, or record an idea. Keep your planner close by at all times.
  5. Maintain one–and only one–planner. If you start to keep some information on your “calendar” and some information in a little booklet on your desk, and other information in your computer, but you don’t have a way to get it all together (synched), then you will never be quite sure that you have what you need–and you won’t. You’ll double schedule, forget things, or appear to be the absent-minded professor when you can’t access something that you know perfectly well you just wrote down.
  6. Recite this mantra: ‘What gets scheduled gets done.’ Include time to conduct your research, time to get your writing done, time to grade papers, time to….whatever you need to do. Put it in your planner as an appointment and then use that time well. Keep appointments with yourself and your family, as well. Someone in one of my workshops told me that his daughter wrote in her name into his planner – apparently because she knew that her dad kept his appointments.
  7. Designate one area of your planner for your master task list. Your master list is where you can capture items that don’t have a specific due date, but that you don’t want to forget about. Keep your head clear and don’t worry about losing great ideas (or less-than-great ones). Just write them (or input them) in whatever the place you’ve designated for this master list.
  8. Create a “task list” for each day. Rethink your list based on your other commitments. Sometimes you’ve thought you could get something done on a certain day, but then once you see what your other commitments are for that day, you realize
    you need to do some shuffling. Create a realistic list for each day.
  9. Consider the month-at-a-glance portion of your planner to be the “storyboard” of your month. You’ll get the “big picture” by looking at your monthly calendar. It helps you see whether you’re out of town too much or if you have too many evening meetings or classes or too much scheduled for the weekends. Take a look at the picture and then make adjustments if you need to.

If you don’t currently have a planner, then get out there and get one. If you already have a planner, go ahead and put at least one of these ideas that you aren’t currently using into practice this week. Don’t delay. No excuses.

planning_your_next_quarterAnd to have peaceful, predictable, productivity for your next quarter, you will want to access the teleseminar Planning Your Next Quarter where you learn how to strategically set up your calendar one quarter at a time…