Archive for category: Interviews

Matthew Cornell @ answers to your academic productivity questions

March 23rd, 2008 by

Hello everyone. Thanks very much for your great questions, and for having me here. Following are my answers, some thoughts on academic productivity, and some ideas from my consulting work with faculty. I hope you find them helpful.


Background of the problem

What’s the problem? Your jobs are hard. Positions in academia are some of the broadest and most demanding I’ve encountered in my consulting. As my client Mary Deane Sorcinelli [1] points out in her Peer Review article Faculty Development: The Challenge Going Forward (PDF),

The set of tasks expected of faculty is intensifying under increasing pressure to keep up with new directions in teaching and research. Thus, for example, new faculty members may need to develop skills in grant-writing or in designing and offering online courses. Seasoned faculty members may need to keep up with emerging specialties in their fields as well as to engage in more interdisciplinary work.

Further, without excellent self-management skills, people face significant stress trying to achieve distinction as scholars, teachers, and campus citizens. They sacrifice work and life balance, and risk burnout – a big loss for both the academe and the faculty member herself. Fortunately, there’s plenty to hope for. Clients and colleagues have told me that adopting a method to improve productivity is one the best steps academics can take to improve faculty success.

Answers to your questions

Adopting a method without its taking over

As an academic, I have a lot of projects going at once and haven’t been able to maintain the action-based ToDo list over time. How can I keep the productivity process from becoming its own project taking over my time and attention?


Use the new 2.0 superpowers: make a comment

February 22nd, 2008 by

The new 2.0 is being out for a month now. Yay! But it seems that most users (yes, users, not readers) didn’t really take advantage of the new features.

The goal of 2.0 is to have more content for everybody. So what can you do to make 2.0 better? Simple. Start having fun. Di20993325_affce142b9_md you know you can post (and everybody will see your post, if the editors like it)? There is a post describing how to make a post (hmm, I like recursion).

Comments now have new superpowers too. You can link to any page (where your own inventions lurk) and 2.0 will send you Google love. Most blogs have a ‘nofollow’ tag that tells Google not to leak juice. This is mostly done to fight spamming… but we trust you enough to let you operate at large. After all, you had to sign up for an account, so you must be human (are you?). Plus, we monitor comments closely. And this is all in line with our views on how to distribute credit in a fair way -and test soft-peer review ideas-.

You can have your own image on each post… although for that you need to upload one first at (takes seconds). This will help people recognize you. And did we mention it works on any blog on the entire intarweb? Still, most users don’t have a gravatar. Get one.

And where should you test your new shining gravatar? Why, on this thread about the interview with Mark Cornell. We have a few questions already, but the more questions, the meatier his response will be.

If you enjoy these kind of interviews, help us make them possible. And of course, feel free to invite some super-productive monster you know to be interviewed or to post some lifehacks he uses!

We will keep reminding you of new features until you use them or tell us to shut up already.

Oh, and by the way, this post took me 1:25. There’s very little time investment in posting a quick link or idea; you don’t really need to post a lengthy diatribe with references at the end (that’s for paper journals).’s interviews Matt Cornell: Submit your questions

January 28th, 2008 by

We have talked about Matt Cornell before on our post “Matt’s idea blog on GTD and Faculty Productivity“.

When I first found his blog, Matt mentioned that…9-320px

[He] would work with three self-selected early faculty members, coach them in the method, and hopefully give the director enough information to decide if the results merited a larger follow-on effort.

His latest blog posts have been covering interviews with productivity personalities (book authors and bloggers, as well as practitioners and consultants). His posts are consistently good, which is somewhat rare in the blogosphere.

I have talked Matt into being ‘interviewed’ here at But instead of doing an audio interview as we did with Mark Forster, this time we want to stick to text. The advantage is that this time you can submit your own questions; he will read them and try to answer them. You are getting direct access to a consultant who has experience helping academics, so use it wisely.

In any case, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity to follow up on his work with academics. How well does GTD adapt to the academic world? Has he been able to measure performance before and after adopting GTD?

Use the comments on this blog post to send your questions. One question per comment; if you have several questions please post them separately.

How do you submit seven papers in a month? interview with Dan Navarro

March 7th, 2007 by

Dan posted in his blog that he had managed to get seven papers out in the open literature in January. I had to interview him. How do you manage your daily workload?

Dan Navarro: A lot more pragmatically than I used to. I put an hour or so aside each morning to cover the miniature administrative rubbish – it’s not really enough time to do it properly, but I’ve started to realise that most of it doesn’t matter very much, so I can cut-and-paste a lot of things (Incidentally: never throw away a good piece of bureaucracy-speak, like a research profile or a course description. You can reuse it about 10 times before anyone starts to care). I tend to do intellectually heavy things throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. I tend to take a bit of a siesta in the late afternoon – I don’t sleep, but I do switch off a bit (sometimes I do paperwork). I find this makes it easier to do something useful in the evening. (more…)

Is virtual networking effective?

December 11th, 2006 by

One other thing that hasn’t changed . . . There are still people who make the transition into a new job quickly and relatively painlessly, and other people with similar experience/credentials who go months or years without these same nibbles. I credit the difference to two things: 1) How the person felt about their expectations of success, and 2) How far they strayed from their computer.

Dave Jensen, Moderator at scienceCareers  has this interesting post on how bombarding people with new communication channels (e-mails etc) won’t work better than face-to-face or any other traditional means. Networking seems to be fashionable, with books like Ferrazi’s Never eat alone getting really popular. Is it really the case that academics do no not pay much attention to email networking? Do you really need to get away of your computer to keep your contacts alive? I find this surprising considering how multi-authored papers have grown with the use/abuse of email. But of course, looking for a job may be a different thing. Is really a phone call better?

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