Although I chaired the department for nearly 17 years, I had never before served as graduate director. Now that I’ve been in the role for a few months, I know why! At times it has seemed like a full-time job. Of course my sense of this has been abetted by Katrina’s departure. Alas, we will all survive. In fact, academic survival is what I am touting as my major emphasis this year.
I believe strongly that you survive most easily and successfully when you have a sense of accomplishment. For graduate students – and to some degree, this doesn’t change as much as you think when you are a faculty member or working in a more applied or policy setting – one of the most difficult things to learn is how to effectively manage your time. This leads to a kind of hypothesis: The better you are at managing your time, the greater the probability of satisfaction in your life. I think this is a partial explanation for why people sometimes talk about being “wise” with your time. Time is “fleeting” (tempus fugit). In a finite way, you only have so much of it so you are constantly making decisions about how to use it. And important things compete for your time – you know as you weigh up their comparative importance, time spent on one thing will, to some degree, be at the expense of the others. Ergo, people talk about “losing” or “wasting” time versus “time well spent” or a “good time.” I hope you all do spend your time well and have some enjoyment in the process.
Being in graduate school is not exactly like the show “Survivor” but it’s similar! We want you on the team and to be a contributing member. The occasional brown bags we are having are meant to help you think about how to successfully play the academic ‘Survivor’ game, how to use your time. As with all games, the more you know about it, the better you are likely to be as a player. You invest your time and, hopefully, the yield will be worth it. To that end, I look forward to seeing you on the playing field.