I am from a mathematical background yet I feel this question is more suited to Academia SA rather than MO. Even though what follows is obviously opinion-based and taste-dependent, I believe most of the organizational problems and choices in time management are common to us all.

The one-line question is in the title:

How to manage all the different aspects of an academic life?

Let me be more precise. Once in the academic world, with one’s PhD degree and some position to continue in this path, there are many different aspects we have to deal with, for instance:

  • research (i.e. ultimately publish papers)
  • community (i.e. give talks, attend conferences, reviewing, etc.)
  • learning (extending the grasp on the related fields, changing interests, etc.)
  • administration (also including applications)
  • teaching

None of these is unrelated to the others, and most are highly time-consuming. It is then important to be able to prioritize them in some sense, without having some of these aspects fade behind the apparent urge or importance of the others (for instance, keeping going on long-term reading/studying projects of fields quite new seem to me to be a hard task when the schedule is already full of teaching and current research projects). Is there any other axis on which to classify and choose activities depending on the time available or the mood, for instance :

  • short/long tasks
  • strong/weak focus
  • technical/meta type
  • mastered/new content

Also, many research projects and ideas can accumulate, as well as social tasks (like reviewing), so it is necessary to know when to stop and when to begin again with new project. So in a more managerial aspect, questions can be:

  • what is a day/week made of?
  • how to keep track of all these aspects
  • how to keep a certain balance

Of course comments and critics are welcome on the choices of points I have listed above, and could help clarify other dimensions I have not taken into account.

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