How hard should I work?

As you start your academic life, you will attend many seminars on research.  Yet, few seminars will discuss with you how hard you should work.

In this post, I am going to point you to a book that is not about what you will write in your thesis.  Nor is the book about how you should write your thesis. The book is about how you should manage your time

You will be glad to know that the author, Robert Boice, is not a well renowned professor who has an intimidating publication rate. The author spent his life coaching academics in their early years and committed to paper what he learned.

You will also be glad to know that successful academics do not spend every waking hour working.  Quite the opposite. It seems that successful academics that Boice encountered were more playful – from the start.

Successful academics were not undisciplined, though. They worked at their work systematically, but in short chunks, every day. 

Here is the book:

Robert Boice (2000). Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil Nimus. Pearson. (288pp)

And here are three critical figures that make the book work reading

Boice calculated that young academics who write little-and-often complete 1.8 papers a year

And, that young academics who crammed their work into ‘binges’ completed 0.2 papers at year

A 9-fold difference in productivity.

A powerpoint pack to introduce Boice’s idesas

Some years ago, I turned Boice’s results into a study skills lecture for students who were just starting out on their university careers. 

Here is the powerpoint to give you a sneak preview of Boice’s findings