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Keeping Up With Your Records

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We’re already a month into the new year, and planning for next semester may well be underway at your university–with annual deadlines and reviews right around the corner. In the hectic transition between semesters or with the holiday rush, it’s easy to have lost sight of well-meant plans to keep better records and update files regularly. But while 2011 is still fresh in your memory, it’s a great time to catch up on records. Here are a few strategies for revisiting your tenure box or other personal archive with spring semester goals in mind.

Start thinking about your annual review now. If you’re at a stage in your career where you have an annual review or progress for tenure report due, it’s a great idea to read the forms early–Nels has some great suggestions for making sense of your annual report requirements. There are a number of additional strategies for keeping up with important data in the comments on starting a tenure box. This is also a great time of year to check the sections of your next annual review for areas you might want to focus on during the spring and to start jotting down the important talking points (one or two for each accomplishment) for an end of term narrative.

Update your vitae. Natalie has some great advice on creating and maintaining a CV. Can’t remember what happened in September? You might try searching your own records: if you use Gmail or another email account, you can try looking up terms like conference, committee meeting, and other keywords to jog your memory. I also go back to read my old accomplishment reports to make sure everything I mentioned each month has made it in to the long-term records. For online CVs using Dropbox or another solution to automatically sync the new version, as Brian suggested, can be a great way to ensure your website stays up-to-date.

Check your web presence for dead links and old information. If you use your own website to link your work across blogs and journals, draw in a Twitter feed, update students on your courses, or for other professional purposes, it’s important to keep the information up to date. Did you finish a degree in the fall? Change jobs? Is your title consistent across all the social media you use? Indulging in self-Googling (using the name of your institution or discipline if you have a common name) can help unearth everything from a half-remembered social media profile worth deleting or a great blog post about your work worth saving.

Revisit your records system. Strategies for organization often fall apart with changes in schedule and habits–I often leave my records in chaos during the holiday season because of the time away from the office. The beginning of a new semester can be a time to regroup and figure out what works given a changing schedule.

What are your strategies for keeping up with your records? Do you have any “spring semester cleaning” rituals for transitioning between terms? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative Commons Licensed Photo by Flickr User fsse8info]

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