photo © 2009 Justin See (coming back) | more info (via: Wylio)Was there some official decree to make this week about efficiency? Many of my usual blog-reads were offering up tips on time management. Maybe it’s the spring-thaw meets almost-middle-of-the-semester-freak-out meets just-far-enough-from-january-to-still-try-your-resolution-before-giving-up? Either way, here’s what folks were saying:
First up, Google has launched a new labs feature called “Smart Labels” that filters bulk and notification emails out of your inbox and into another labeled box that sits under the “sent” and “draft” labels. You have to go to labs to activate it. I’m going to give it a try. I have a fairly elaborate labeling system in place, but it seems like merchants/politicians keep devising new ways to get past those. And, apparently, this new feature will play nice with your existing labeling system, allowing for modifactions and revisions.
ProfHacker documents both the Pomodoro technique and Pareto’s principle both of which, interesting, seem to be time management techniques that originated in Italy. These techniques deal with both effective time management and increasing productivity. The Pomodoro technique basically trains you to work in 25 minute segments with 5 minute breaks in between. Pareto’s principle is basically an economics rule — that 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your clients. Applied to academia it can serve as a reminder that, as the ProfHacker columnist points out, 80% of your tenure success may come from your publications and therefore you should spend 20% of your time writing. Not a hard and fast rule, but an interesting guide. I used an approach similar to the Pomodoro technique to get through my dissertation revisions, only it was 10 minutes on and 2 minute breaks. It worked…when I stuck with it.
While these things may help you make better use of your time, there’s also something to be said for bucking the system, right? Another ProfHacker post discusses the importance of not sticking to the syllabus when current events could serve as important teaching moments. But let’s say you really want to throw productivity and efficiency out the window. Well, there’s good news for you then, Angry Birds is coming to Facebook.