It seems to me that busy professors exist at one of two extremes here at the end of the spring term. At the end of the school year, busy professors feel tired, and disconnected from their families. Most busy professors “know” that they need rest in order to be motivated to be at full speed by August, so busy professors take time off and don’t think about their job — or busy professors frantically try to read everything, and write everything they need to in a short three-month period to catch up. Unfortunately, both are woefully ineffective.
So, what SHOULD busy professors be doing in summer? Research on time management and productivity is pretty clear that the way to have really creative ideas is to write a lot. Busy professors who want to be clearheaded with lots of ideas need to spend at least an hour every day writing — 750 words, five days a week, will do magic, but most busy professors won’t do it, because they either think it’s too much, or not enough. As it turns out, 750 words really isn’t very much.
But this leads to another quandary. How do busy professors stay disciplined and on-track when the kids are out of school and the weather is warm? Ben Franklin was right about being early to rise. The most productive busy professors get up early… Even on vacation. A recent book called “The Miracle Morning” gives clear instructions about how to spend one hour a day when everyone else is asleep to become the most productive person you can be. After getting up early, a busy professor has from 7 AM onward to do whatever you want to do, and you have still sharp and your brain and being productive.
In the end, the most important strategy any productive busy professor can have is a routine. The most productive busy professors know ahead of time what they’re doing at 6:30 AM every day, and what they will be doing every day at 11 AM, and they also know what they’re doing every day at 3:30 PM.