Useful information

This section is a collection of useful information gathered from different workshops offered by the Centre for Academic Leadership (CAL) previously, blogs, books, and other universities and colleges. As well as tips provided, you will find many other links to consult.

3.1 Time Management

Moving from the solitary role of professor to the very social one as Chair can be quite a shock: your time will no longer be yours, nor will your focus. Time is an asset that you can not replenish or replace, so you need to make the best use of it.

If you have good time management as you will experience less stress, you will be more productive, you will be able to do things you want to, as well as you will have more energy for doing things you need to achieve, you will be able to move things forward and you will feel better.

If you are interested in managing your time better, you need to know how you are spending your time currently. Start tracking your time with an app (e.g. Hours) or simply with paper and pen, and analyze where you are spending your time and energy.

Effective leaders not only strive to do excellent work, but they spend their time on the most important things. It may be a good time for you to review (or be introduced to) Covey’s time management quadrant (browser search, even Wikipedia will give you a decent summary), mostly the difference between urgent and important. A chair was recently retelling the story that one of the things she wanted to accomplish during her mandate was to remove one irritant for each colleague in her department. Every morning, she would remind herself of this and make the time to meet with colleagues to find out the irritants and work to removing them. This task was not urgent, but one most important to improve the department’s climate.

There are really three skills to effective time management: prioritisation, scheduling and executing. You need to know your priorities and use them to make your time plan (don’t forget to include personal priorities as well in your calendar). You should break down large projects into smaller tasks and assign deadlines. For any meeting you attend (especially for those you organize), there should be an agenda. Remember to buffer in time to travel from one meeting to the next (or finish notes or prepare for the next) as well as some time for the unplanned emergencies.

Most importantly, do NOT check your emails first thing in the morning as it has a habit of setting your day’s agenda. For any matters that may require urgent attention, your colleagues will use other means of contacting you, e.g. telephone, in person, through administrative staff.

Here are some additional resources for you to browse at your leisure:



Hansen, C. K. (2011). Time management for department chairs. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

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