Dr. Kashyap is busy juggling many roles as engineering faculty.
Dr. Naresh Kashyap is busy. He has many responsibilities in his second year as an assistant professor: teaching, advising students, research, and service. But he's struggling to balance the multiple responsibilities of faculty life with his personal life. He obtains advice from a colleague that helps him prioritize his work and make time to “have a life.”
Dr. Kashyap teaches one class a term in the software engineering department, is starting an NSF-funded research program, manages one graduate research assistant, and must attend departmental committee meetings. He also advises undergraduate and graduate students. On top of all this, he's learning to negotiate the university bureaucracy to manage his grant's budget. Each day requires prioritizing these competing work responsibilities.
To make matters worse, Naresh is struggling to balance the demands of his faculty life with his personal life. He works long hours—using evenings and weekends to read emails and grade homework—but he'd like to have more free time for himself, family, and friends.
Dr. Kashyap feels that he's effective in the classroom, but he has limited time. Teaching activities, such as preparing lectures or meeting with students, can easily consume his time and edge out research activities, which he enjoys and finds important to his standing in the field.
How much time should he spend on his teaching? He must figure out how to prioritize all of these professional and personal demands.
Naresh complained briefly to a colleague about the tension between competing faculty duties and “having a life.” The colleague recognized the struggles of new faculty and suggested they sit down and talk about this. When they met, Naresh's colleague outlined three suggestions:
- Write out the priorities in your life and realistically determine how much time you can put into each activity this term. Since everyone's faculty and personal commitments differ, that time is different for every person.
- Find ways to be efficient in teaching without changing your effectiveness. Prepare for your course in the hour or two before class so that the material is fresh. Grading could be simplified if you select meaningful ways to provide feedback to students.
- Ensure you are spending the necessary time on activities important to your long-term success, such as establishing your research program or developing relationships that can have a long-lasting impact. You may need to limit the time spent on course preparation. Consider scheduling an hour of scholarly writing each day or a weekly lunch with a mentor.
Naresh wrote out his priorities and scheduled his research and teaching activities. This led him to stick to a schedule more often. By focusing on more efficiency in his teaching, he freed up his weekends.