Confused at a higher level

The view from Carleton College's physics department

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A day in the life

Posted by Melissa on April 2, 2012

In response to David Levy’s opinion piece in the Washington Post last week about about whether faculty work hard enough, Lee Bessette asked faculty to chart what they actually do for a day, today being the chosen day. As a faculty member, no two days are the same so trying to extrapolate how I spend my time from a snapshot of any single day is nearly impossible. I’m also afraid that this type of post can feed the “Look! Look! I am busier than thou!” mentality. I don’t intend for this post to play such a role. With the disclaimers out of the way, here is what my day happened to look like.

7:00 Everyone in the house gets up, has breakfast together, and gets ready to head out the door
8:25 Daycare drop off
8:35 Arrive at my office
8:35-9:00 Answer e-mails, peruse the web including arXiv, take care of some paperwork, talk with a colleague
9-9:30 Work on a conference abstract
9:30-11:00 Office hours, meet with a student about comps, prep for class (with the bulk of the prep done over the weekend)
11:10-12:20 Teach solid state physics
12:30-2:15 Strategic planning working group meeting
2:15-3:00 Answer e-mails, do some event planning associated with service role
3:10-4:30 Physics fair — an open house showcasing projects students worked on for physics classes
4:30-6 Faculty meeting. (Husband does daycare pick-up and takes care of dinner.)
6:10 Arrive home
6:10-7:15 Spend time with my daughter until her bedtime
7:15-7:25 Raid the fridge for dinner
7:25-8:00 Answer e-mails, more work on conference abstract
8:00-9:30 Do some prep for the next solid state problem set
9:30-11:00 Down time & taking care of things around the house

How does this day stack up with others? Most days I don’t have 3+ hours of meetings.  Also, faculty meeting days always leave me a bit grumpy because I get to spend less time with my daughter than I would like — an hour with her in the evenings isn’t enough.  Otherwise, feel free to draw your own conclusions about whether this is a sufficient day’s work.


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