Status Reports for Mike Gleicher's Students
If you work for me (for example, as an RA or an undergrad directed study) you must send me a status report every week.
I have found this to be a useful tool not just for the "reviewer"
(e.g. me reading this), but also for the person writing it. I really believe
if you spend 15 minutes doing this every week, you will be more productive
in the long run.
One of the things that I have found over the years is that its quite
easy to forget what you've accomplished, forget what you were trying to
do, forget to think about what you should be doing, ... I, therefore,
have found it really useful to write periodic reports that force me to
think about these things, and leave a record so I can remember what I've
been doing. The form of this report is designed to foster that kind of
thought, and to help identify problems that may crop up.
Your report must be sent to me by email on Friday of each week. Please send it with the title "NAME's status report for 9/1/2005" (important: make sure you have your name and the date in the report since I get a bunch of these). Be sure to save a copy for yourself (so at the end of a semester we can look back at them).
Your report should have the following following 6 sections:
- What were my goals for this week?
- What did I accomplish this week?
- Why are numbers 1 and 2 different?
- What are my goals for next week?
- How does this fit in to my bigger picture? How does #4 fit into my longer term goals? (What are the longer term goals?) What deadlines are looming beyond the week horizon?
- What did I read this week?
Important: Status reports are to help understand how things are progressing. It is much better to file a status report saying that little got done than it is to wait until you have something you are proud of. File one every week - whether you accomplished anything or not.
Some comments on these questions:
- The time management literature (especially the books by Covey) say
that a week is the right size time chunk to do planning at: days are
too "micro", months are too long.
- However, working along week by week, its way too easy to lose track
of the big picture. The "macro" planning process is seperate
from the weekly report. We should do semester scale planning as well,
but that is independent of the weekly report.
- Number 1 is not necessarily the previous weeks #4 - in practice, goals
change over time.
- It's best to be honest about number 3 - it's a great place to identify
roadblocks that come up.
- Question #5 is designed to help reconnect to the big picture. I left
it out initially from my suggested format. It's not meant to take the
place of periodic long-term planning.
- Question #6 is a new addition. It is added for a number of reasons.
First, I had been concerned that many people get so caught up in hacking
or the specific thing they are doing that they aren't reading - which
is an important part of research. Second, I am not getting to read as
much as I would like, so this is a way for me to hear about more stuff
vicariously. As far as reading, I have a recommendation on Bibliographies.
For the purposes of the status report DON'T PUT THE WHOLE CITATION.
Just give me enough information so I have an idea of what it is. For
Interactive Video Cutout, SIGGRAPH 2005
- Is totally sufficient.
- Putting non-research stuff in 1-5 is a good idea. For exmaple, its
good to know that you have an exam during the week so you might not get
as much research work done, or that you didn't get enough work done
on your class project because you're busy doing research. I'm less interested
in non-research related readings (#6) unless you feel that it is relevant.