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Managing Time and Priorities with Savvy and Wisdom
In this thoughtful Chronicle of Higher Education article, Allison Vaillancourt (University of Arizona/Tucson) writes about some of the time-allocation choices she’s had to make during her academic career: “Do I meet with the student who is struggling, or the one who shows great promise? Should I make an appearance at the often-pointless department meeting, or should I use that time to finish my manuscript? Will anyone notice if I skip the ribbon-cutting ceremony to meet with a high-potential donor instead?”
Here are the guidelines Vaillancourt has come up with decide where to invest her time and energy:
• Will this activity move me toward my long-term goals? “Selfish single-mindedness can lead to a bad reputation and missed opportunities,” she says, “but the most effective people I know are generally strategic about how they use their time.”
• Will this activity be energizing, or will it suck the life out of me? Some meetings give us new ideas, a fresh way of seeing an old problem, a productive collaboration, or a mood boost, and that makes them worthwhile.
• Will anyone notice or care if I am missing? Is not going an option – or going for part of a meeting?
• Will this choice disappoint the right people? Vaillancourt rues the day she skipped her beloved grandmother’s memorial service to attend the launch of a high-profile academic leadership institute. “I rationalized that I was an attentive granddaughter while my grandmother was alive and convinced myself that missing the gathering was an appropriate sacrifice for an opportunity to demonstrate my professional commitment. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The memorial service was probably the final time my extended family would ever be together, and my father was crushed by my absence. There is no question that I disappointed the wrong people, and I count this as one of my very worst decisions.”
“Are You Disappointing the Right People?” by Allison Vaillancourt in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 20, 2013 (Vol. LX, #3, p. A35),
From the Marshall Memo #503