Looking down from a trail close to Idyllwild. Patterns can be seen better in the distance (geographical or time).

Looking down from a trail close to Idyllwild. Patterns can be seen better in the distance (geographical or time).

…and embraced it instead.

Some time last summer a directive came down from the powers to be, that each faculty member should submit every month a list of activities or achievements outside the planned or required activities. A collective groan was the response, and explanations were provided promptly that the lists would be aggregated and the highlights were to become “bragging points” for each school. Lists had to be bullet-pointed and divided into the three academic areas: teaching, research, and service.

After a month or so of last minute scrambling, I started a Google document and every time I did something outside my official plan (sending a letter of support for an initiative, meeting and networking, getting a presentation approved, joining a society, giving extra support for a disabled student, etc) I typed it into the document right away. I put a reminder into my calendar about sending it in time, and soon it faded away to become one more routine action of the month.

February is merit request letter submission time. As I sent this morning the December list, I scrolled up the document all the way back to June and realized that all needed for the letter was there! The list not only reflected specific actions and achievements, but also recorded the process- one month I was applying for something (which meant I spent some time writing in frenzy) and a few months later I had it accepted. Monthly small connections, meetings, and events came together as a sustained outreach effort. By recording every little thing month after month, I was able to have not only all the facts, but also see the pattern of my activity over longer periods in time.

What else to say? Lists are good. Bragging lists are useful. Admins sometimes come with pretty good ideas. Google documents rock.