‘Tis the season… for writing a huge number of letters of recommendation. This is happy, but I am always worried that I will miss one and be the reason why some poor person didn’t get into UniversityOfTheirDreams. It is a big responsibility to be a letter writer, and I do not engage in this activity lightly.
Each student who asks me for a letter, I require them to send me a statement of their research and give me a CV or resume. This helps me to write a better, more informed letter. It is also the same as when I suggest that you prep your letter writers in previous post. You should always have a conversation and give them written information to help your letter writers.
I have also started something new this year to help keep myself organized: a list. This year, I am asking all students who ask for letters to give me a list of the schools to which they are applying, so I can make sure I send them all. Most students were surprised that I asked for all this information. But, it is all part of my new leaf to be better organized.
My new organizational schemes have been working most of the semester, and I am happy to say. Another thing that I rehashed was to have a notebook I always have with to do lists and notes for work. Much like a lab notebook, which I was really excellent at retaining, this notebook has all my important information. This semester, I ticked off entire do lists. Sadly, as soon as one was complete, I was able to create a new list de novo from my memory entailing an entire page work of more “to dos.”
I have also started a spreadsheet for manuscripts to track their progress and what I still need to do. This idea came from another, very coordinated WomanOfScience. It is a little disheartening at first to see all the papers I need to work on laid out in their various states of incompleteness, but it is also good to see when they make progress. I am hoping to clear some into the submitted regime over winter break.
So, what about you? Any special organizational schemes to keep on top of your work? If so, please share.