All posts by Jason B. Jones


Open Thread Wednesday: About Those Software Updates


At some point at or after 1pm in their local time zone, iOS users will be able to download and install the latest version of the system software. (Well, most users, anyway.) And while I’m sure ProfHacker will cover the utility of different features in the coming weeks–and while Android users will comment, ‘meh–we’ve had that feature for years’–I wanted to focus on a different question today:

Are you a first-day updater? Why / why not? Do you have different approaches for devices you own persona…


On Politeness as a Strategy

Despite its fondness for elaborate rituals, higher education really isn’t all that polite. Every campus has its faculty or staff member(s) who are notoriously fractious and hard to work with, and, more generally, higher education doesn’t really select for “playing well with others.” (Indeed, if you Google “academic decorum,” a result on the first page includes musings on whether creativity and collegiality are truly compatible.) Higher education’s traditional employment practices can mean that …


Weekend Reading: Where’s the Hurry Edition


Now that it’s the middle of July, the universal cry across college campuses has been, “why does the summer go so quickly?” After all, the Premier League’s season is only a month away–and with Liverpool yet to sign a world-class striker!

Wait–that’s not why, well, except for my 11yo. Many faculty are concerned because their summer plans–whether for writing or course planning or recovering–are starting to run out of days. Likewise, the countdown is on for all of the staff plans for getting their …


To Become a Writer, Track Your Writing


The great secret about writing is that there isn’t any particular secret to it: You just have to show up and do it. Again, and again, and again. (There’s a reason there are books like Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, but not any called Writing Your Dissertation in a Single Caffeine- and Adderall-Fueled Week.) If you make writing a habit, then that habitual work pays off in words. Sometimes it even leads to inspiration.

And it’s also not a secret that to form a habit, it help…


Bad Meetings Are Your Fault

[This post originally appeared in 2009, but we thought it would be a good idea to share it again.]

If you’re consistently in bad meetings, it’s time to look in the mirror.

No one would accept consistently terrible classes. No one would continually repeat research procedures that didn’t yield interesting data. But there’s this weird assumption that meetings are just inherently bad and unimprovable.

Meetings are a problem when no one is accountable for them. Sometimes this is because the group’s …


Create Calendar Templates On Your iOS Device with Calendar Paste


Any calendar app worth the name can probably handle at least two kinds of events pretty easily: one-off meetings, and regularly recurring meetings. But into any academic life, there’s at least one other kind of meeting that’s also recognizable: the appointment or meeting that happens with some frequency, but not on a set schedule.

For example, department meetings sometimes wander around the calendar in order to be available to as many faculty members as possible. Committee meetings are someti…


Open Thread Wednesday: End-of-Term Self-Care Habits?


It’s the end of the semester, which often means a kind of grading logjam occurs: “Must get late-term assignments done before the final exams/papers/projects come flooding in!” (Otherwise, the well-known Ross Geller method threatens to take over.)

In other words, folks get overworked and tired. And overworked, tired folks often fall back on comforting routines that might not be healthy in the long run, but provide just enough order amid the chaos to get you through. I myself have been known rely…


In Praise of Irrational Regulation


Habits like procrastination are maddening because everyone knows, at some level, that they’re irrational–especially the person currently procrastinating! (That it’s currently final exam season at many colleges almost serves as an object lesson of this principle.) And because it’s irrational, one wants to be able to persuade oneself to act differently. I *won’t* be irrational this time, I really won’t . . . or maybe I won’t be, tomorrow.

The recent popularity, especially in nerd circles, of sel…


Expecting Balance

[This is a repost of a ProfHacker oldie, originally from 27 May 2011.]

A perennial sore point in academe is the phenomenon of work-life balance. As Amy noted last year, there’s always something you could be doing. What’s more, there’s a good chance you like at least some part of the work, since it’s what drew you into the profession, and so you gladly take on more and more, until you realize that you’ve forgotten that you have a third child or sick parent, or your partner starts taking out pers…


Good University Service Means Self-Replacement

Usually, when people complain about faculty and service, it’s along a few well-defined paths: faculty who shirk service; the resulting disproportionate service burden; or how nothing ever gets done.  There is, however, another problem: the faculty member who won’t let go.

Example 1: I’m always a little sad to see requests of the following type: “Due to the unusual expertise of Prof. X, we request a waiver of the term limit for the committee for gerundal pontification & beard-stroking.”  Now, s…