02 November 2007

Notes on Fisher Files, Sequence II, Episode 12 - Summary

Here are my notes on the Fisher Files episode entitled "Summary."

Main points of Sequence II
  1. The greatest advantage of academic life is the freedom to do what you want (within some constraints)
    • You are encouraged and allowed largely to decide what you're going to do and how you're going to do it
    • This kind of freedom is very rare in life
    • Therefore, don't work on projects solely to get funding or tenure
    • Academic career is about following your heart
  2. Academic career is about being free and open in your interactions with people
    • That means being available, even if you don't want to be available
    • Peter tries to keep his door open at least half the time that he's in his office
  3. Avoid busyness, streamline things as much as possible, and make hard decisions not to do things
    • Busyness means doing administration and other "easy" tasks that aren't really important
    • It's easy to take on too much
    • It's easy to become burdened by administration and do those tasks because they are easy where as research and deep thinking are hard
    • Don't fall into that trap
  4. Mindfulness
    • Live in the moment
    • Don't spend time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future
  5. Work and family
    • Many people in academia shaft their families
    • But keep in mind, that the happiest people in academia are those who struck a balance between work and family
    • These people were with their family and children all through out their lives, not just at convenient moments
    • Need to have clear boundaries between work and family
    • Don't answer email on a laptop and try to watch your child at the same time
    • Think about your life 20-30 years from now
    • Research is transitory and ephemeral whereas friendships and family are long-term
  6. Career is a natural progression of stages
    • Don't let career concerns dominate your thinking
    • Again, going back to the idea of academic freedom, don't work for the sake of tenure, funding, fame, etc.
    • Enjoy your academic freedom

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