Time and Money

big picture question, productivity
When I received my first tenure-track job offer, from a public land-grant university in the midwestern United States, I was a bit nonplussed with the salary offered. I had looked at the MLA's suggestions for salaries at various stages of the profession and suggested to my new department that they consider coming closer to that magic number. After they were done convulsing with laughter, they upped my starting salary by $500. Woo hoo. I was, as I frequently remind myself, young and foolish and didn't know the first thing about negotiation. Nor did I possess the smarts to talk to someone about how to go about negotiating a hiring package in the buyer's marketplace that is the foreign language job market in North America. But part of my problem then…
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Do You Pomodoro?

creative work, productivity
You may have heard of the pomodoro technique, but you may not have tried it. And if you haven't tried it, or don't regularly use it, you should reconsider, STAT. Briefly, the pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and focussing on one task for the duration of the timer. Focussed work. When the timer bings, you get 5 minutes to stretch your legs, get a drink of water, touch your toes, go to the loo, check Facebook or Twitter, whatever. Then it's back to the next 25 minute segment of work. It's a pledge to not multi-task. Even when we know the research all points to the fact that multi-tasking is a whole load of dung, the nature of creative and intellectual work--heck, the nature of work,…
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Is “Entrepreneurial” Really a Dirty Word?

creative work, job market
The push in higher education for faculty and departments to think more "entrepreneurially" about their course offerings, their programs, and the experiences they provide their students gets a fair amount of pushback in the humanities. I remember a department chair telling me, circa 2008, that, yes, there might be money to be found in partnerships with foreign companies, but that we, as a department in the humanities, needed "to be careful with whom we climb in bed." His objection to pursuing corporate sponsorship for departmental events or prizes came from that place of collective cynicism in the academy that ascribes morally pure motives to researchers in the ivory tower and capitalistic, exploitative motives to (all) other players in the capitalist economy. I disagree with his commonly held assumption that academia…
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Paralysis is NOT an Option

Today I’m attempting to inject the “energy” into Energized Academic. Yesterday, as I followed the news about Charlottesville, VA and the white-supremacist, Nazi march and ensuing violence around the removal of a statue commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee, my desire to work or think or write plummeted. Sorrow and rage can be paralyzing (1) and they certainly feel that way to me. But I talk to academics about building meaningful lives that honour their values both inside and outside their jobs, so paralysis is not an option. When paralysis hits, I like lists. A place to start, a progression of sorts, a selection of options. 1. Know your values. Ok; Nazis and white supremacists are bad. Duh. But explaining that they are bad in a way that, say, antifa…
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When Your To-Do List Gets Out of Hand

I love lists. I have a few different digital list-making apps on my phone (Wunderlist and Google Keep, for example) but nothing beats a notebook or twelve in which to write down lists of all sorts. I start most days with some sort of to-do list. If I play my cards and make my list right, I can start each day with a new one. Some days, though, yesterdays to-do list becomes today's to-do list and maybe next week's or next month's to-do list, as well. What has gone wrong when your to-do list gets out of hand? Check out this list for some likely causes. 1. The "ick" factor. There is an item on your to-do list that you just don't want to do. Maybe it's unpleasant or onerous…
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