Kate Sheppard is my idol for all things related to time management as an academic. Kate is still the model that we hold up in the History of Science department at OU for finishing on time as a grad student, and she’s even more impressive as a faculty member. She’s already published a monograph and a volume of edited correspondence along with numerous articles and was fast-tracked at Missouri S&T for tenure. She edits & contributes to LadyScience.com, and she’s on several committees for national organizations. She runs marathons. She has an adorable kid and husband. She’s just an all around bad-ass.

Here’s her advice for carving up time. I’m mostly writing this so I can have it as a note to remind myself how to be productive:

I’ve always like the Pomodoro technique, but I’m pretty bad at actually implementing it. The key, I think, is to plan out your day ahead of time and use the timer as a limit to how much time you have for each task. If you don’t get all of a task done in 30 minutes, that’s too bad, you need to move on to the next thing. This shifts the focus from, “I’ll work on this thing for a couple of hours,” to “I’ve got 30 minutes to add a couple of paragraphs to this document.” Brevity is the key to wit and production apparently.

After I read Kate’s tweets, I went ahead and mapped out my days for the rest of the week. I’m still using AirTables to keep track of my To-Do list and projects, but then I map those to-do items to 30 or 60 minute windows in my day. We’ll see how well this works over the relatively unstructured and chaotic summer. Hopefully, I’ll build a good enough routine that it’ll carry into the fall, and I can test it out within the chaos of faculty and student support.