Making Time, Taking Time: 70, 10, 10, 10

I just finished reading Katrina’s post on students who are scared to interrupt us because we look so busy and it made a lot of sense. It’s certainly something I’ve struggled with and anyone who has come into my office in the past few months has seen that I am really trying to give everyone as much time as possible – but I’m obviously balancing a lot of things.

I’ve been toying with some new models for setting up my time for the day and something I’m finding that works is 70/10/10/10 time. I can lose up to 70% of my day with pre-scheduled appointments, lectures, tutes, meetings and things like that, but the remaining 30% is broken down like this:

  • 10% time reserved for the unforeseen – things like the opportunity to put a proposal in to attend an important meeting in California, that lobbed onto my desk yesterday and needed about 3 hours of work to get to fruition – completed by this Friday. I seem to get things like this every day!
  • 10% time reserved for me to do things like go to the bathroom, eat lunch and enjoy a coffee. I need time to get from point A to point B – and sitting the whole day hungry, thirsty or … anything else will not produce my best work.
  • 10% time, reserved in my head and on my calendar, for students who drop in to ask questions or who send me e-mail with questions (or post them on the forum). I should be making time. Yes, I have drop-in times normally but my students have a range of timetables and, after all, I am here to help. If I’m genuinely busy and out of time then I may have to use this time as well, but setting aside this time will help me to think about my students.

I look at the blog as an example. Every day, I put aside 20-30 minutes to write a post and, every day, I think of things that help me, or look for things to share, or go and do some research on CS Ed, or write up something interesting. (Some days I manage all of this!)  Putting time aside for something gives you the mental ability to think “Yes, this is important and I should do this.”

Thanks, Katrina!


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