Monday, 21 February 2011

What professors do: Day One

Philip Nel, whose ideas I pinch regularly, is this week blogging about What professors do all days. It is indeed a question many people wonder over. We who only have to teach a couple of hours a week and then lie in the sun and drink cocktails. Since I am on study leave, my days are not what they normally would be during term time, but all the more interesting. I have no classes, no meetings, no schedules. What do I actually do all days? I'll give it try.

Day One: Monday

Up 7:30. Shower, breakfast, coffee
8:15 Turn on computer. Check private email and Facebook. Too many private messages (mostly from my husband with links to interesting articles and new google search results for himself and me); save until later.
8:30 Close private email and Facebook. Check work email. Three draft chapters I'll have to read by Thursday, and an upgrade report I'll have to read by Wednesday (an upgrade report is a 20.000-word paper that allows a student to continue with her PhD). Reply to messages, which takes time even if it is just “Thank you, will get back asap”. Forward relevant messages to my co-editor. Reply to messages I deliberately ignored during the weekend. New messages come while I reply. Move messages that don't demand more attention to archive. Try to keep the number of active messages below 50 (it never works).
9:15 Read a PhD viva report draft, contemplate, send off to Higher Degree Office.
9:30 Read the revised book proposal that I wrote on Saturday. Make final amendments. Send off to editor. Cross it from list of urgent things to do. Reply to emails that arrived in the meantime.
10:05 Mid-morning coffee
10:25 Check email and reply to newly arrived messages. Write paper to the Faculty in support of not closing our undergraduate programme, ranked as the best in the UK
11:30 Drive to work. This might not count as working time, but I use it as quiet, private time for meditation that I seldom have otherwise and that therefore is good for my general well-being.
12:00 Check and reply to email. Print out, sign and post a book chapter contract
12:30 Fancy lunch with a visiting scholar who has been with us for six months and is leaving soon. This is doubtless part of work, just as all lunches with colleagues, especially those in my academic group, are part of work.
3 Back at home. Check email. Resist checking Facebook.
3:15 Read PhD upgrade report. Since it's about the fifteenth time I read it, there is not much to comment on, but still takes time.
4:30 Talk to my son on the phone about an urgent matter.
5 Catch up on email (I am very bad at multitasking). Resume reading PhD report
5:30 Read the final draft of a paper that a student is submitting to a journal. Email student with suggestions.
5:45 Read a PhD student's log and send to student with approval.
6 Close work email (imperative). Open Facebook. Now, I count Facebook as work even though I also read what my children's post. Facebook is for me a professional network and information source; I read colleagues' blogs, get links to articles and debates, get info about events and so on and so on. I read Facebook like journalists read newspapers: it's work, no doubt. Quite of lot of interesting stuff today. Second installment of Philip's blog. A Norwegian blog from the conference I attended last week. The executive officer for ALMA award is leaving and going over to be a publisher. Book reviews. Facebook reminders of friends' birthdays.
6:30 Read private emails. As a result search for a very obscure book on Amazon, compare editions and order.
6:40 read the first of the four chapters for the volume I am editing
7:10 dinner after which I intend to watch a movie and then go to bed and read a non-work-related book.

Summary of the day: at least ten hours including lunch. Whoever thinks business lunch is recreating, try it!

Footnote: most people don't realise it, but all the time I am working in a foreign language.

To be continued.

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