Yesterday I talked about getting my departmental annual reviews back and one commenter asked:
"Maybe you can enlighten us about how you wrote the review."
I started to write a comment, but then decided to turn it into a post. Basically, an excellent piece of advice that one of my colleagues has given me is to keep a simple Word file that tracks all of the little things that you do. Why is this important? Well, when you go to write an annual report it's easy to remember the big things like papers and grants, etc, but all the little stuff really adds up and is much harder to recall.
For example, every time I get a paper to review, I write down the date and what journal it was for. Same for grants. Represent the department at some university-wide meeting? Write it down. Receive some small recognition? Again, put it on paper. It's amazing how quickly things get forgotten when you have so much to do and getting it all on paper saves you buckets of time when it comes to writing the annual report. As another example, I gave four invited seminars last year at university around the area and because I wrote down all the details when they happened, it was easy to slot them into the review file. Rather than going through your calendar and emails looking for dates, it's all in one place.
Other than that, I asked for a template from someone a few years ahead of me whom I respect. I simply switched out their information for mine and I was off and running. Once you establish the document the first time it can just be added to in subsequent years, with the new information bolded. If you keep that sort of document up it can be the basis for your tenure package and make that process a whole lot easier as well.