Thursday, August 16, 2007

A day in the life

For some reason, I have been feeling an odd desire to make some new year's resolutions. Maybe it's that I'm now far enough into the teaching semester to feel like I'm in control of my life again.

One of my big struggles at the moment is managing my time. Getting a good balance between spending enough time on teaching to do a good job, but not letting it suck up every available minute. So you know how they say when you are thinking about changing your eating habits, you should start by keeping a log of everything you eat? Well I'm thinking about changing my time management habits, so I'm going to start by keeping a log of everything I do.

Obviously that would get kind of boring to read, so I'm not going to do it here. I thought (inspired by Anastasia) that I'd do one "day in the life" post here, and then post a daily summary (e.g. 3 hours teaching prep, 1 hour teaching, 3 hours watching parrots, 6 hours writing down what I was doing, etc). Maybe for a week. I'm keeping notes on what I'm doing every hour in a notebook and I'll work out totals at the end of the day.

Here's the detailed "day in the life" version from yesterday.

7:20 Get up. Shower, etc.
7:40 Sweep balcony, vacuum, clean bathroom and kitchen (landlady is dropping by after dinner).
8:30 Quick breakfast, check emails.
8:45 Cycle to university.
9:07 Start prepping my 11:00 tutorial (I prepared for my 10:00 last night).
10:00 Teach.
11:00 Teach.
12:00 Student asks me for the "short version" of how linguists work out what languages were like in the past. I explain the entire discipline of historical linguistics in 5 minutes.
12:05 Student asks really really smart question pointing out a methodological flaw in the way compound nouns are analysed. I spend 10 minutes tying myself in intellectual knots, then promise to get back to her.
12:30 Toastmasters meeting. (I am president of our local group).
1:30 Fielding questions from visitors to Toastmasters who are thinking of joining.
1:58 Finally back in my office. Eat lunch. Try to play some Scrabble turns on Facebook, but the server is down.
2:15 Make overheads and run through lesson plan for my 3pm lecture.
3:00 Teach.
4:15 Back in office. Drink well-earned coffee. Read blogs and email to recover from all that teaching.
5:05 Cycle across campus to meet Geekman
5:15 Public lecture on how astronomers discover planets.
6:30 Coffee with Geekman
7:00 Choir practice.
9:30 Cycle home.
9:45 Eat dinner. Play Scrabble on Facebook.
10:30 Watch Star Trek episode (DVD)
11:30 Bed.

Obviously Wednesdays are atypical. Otherwise I would be dead or insane.


Jana said...

I don't see how you could save much time in that day, to be honest, except to work more quickly. Is that possible, or are you already at maximum efficiency?

I have the concentration span of a gnat, but I do find that one of the best ways to get things done is to organise blocks of time in which to get things done (research and writing, for example). Your day is - atypically? - very splintered, so it's hard to get that done.

I also find the two-minute rule very helpful: if you can do something within two minutes, do it immediately, otherwise put it in a task pile for which you've set aside a block of time later on.

Kelly said...

It's a good thing you put that disclaimer at the bottom, because if my days were anything like your Wednesdays then I'd never get anything done!

You sound like a real academic now, what with all of the teaching and being flummoxed by students. Are you a "lecturer" now? Sometimes I still can't figure out these NZ/Aus academic hierarchies - the titles are a little different than the US ones.

wwwmama said...

I'm finding these day in the life posts interesting (yours and a's). I think it's a useful exercise in terms of comparison but also for posterity, no? There are times in my past when I was extraordinarily productive and I can't imagine now how I did it.

StyleyGeek said...

Jana, those are helpful suggestions. I'm not actually looking to be more productive on Wednesdays, since they are already so crazy. I think my problem is that I spend half the rest of the week recovering from Wednesdays and that's where I need to start saving time.

Kelly, I guess I do count as a "lecturer". I find American titles confusing! I think the big difference is that in the USA, any academic counts as a "professor", whereas here you are only a professor if you have an endowed chair. The other difference that confuses me is that you guys distinguish between "faculty" and "staff" (= academic vs non-academic employees?) and we don't. Generally a lecturer/professor would consider themselves to be "staff". We don't really use the word "faculty" at all, except to distinguish between the different schools in the university, e.g. faculty of arts, faculty of science, etc.