NPR has a story up today by a UC Berkeley psych prof about balancing parenting and being a professor, "A Day in the Life of an Academic Mom." The intro says, "Blogger Tania Lombrozo is an academic — and a mom. Here, she gives a window into what that's like day-to-day." From that intro, I have a sense I'm going to read about a whole heck of a hard day's work. Don't you?
But she gets to work at 9am: "9:00 a.m. I'm finally in my office, a glorious hour of uninterrupted work time ahead." From there she gives an hour by hour run down of her day, until the 4pm entry, which says, "4:00 p.m. I ignore my escalating email and return to the paper I'm writing. Forty-five splendid minutes speed by; it's time to pick up the kids."
So, she's worked 9am to 4:45. Nice.
Except every single factory worker in the US got to work at 7 or 8am (or started a night shift or whatever), and did their job for 8 full hours. Yep, they probably got some time for lunch.
Lombrozo does say she emailed a little later in the evening: "9:00 p.m. The kids are finally asleep. I email my student the experiment idea. I book my conference travel. I open the document with the paper I'm working on. Can I sleep yet? I close it again."
It's not that I don't think she does her job. Heck, she's probably way smarter and harder working than I am. But this hour by hour thing isn't convincing.
Let's imagine that factory worker's a mother as well. She, too, gets up at 6am, maybe earlier. She gets the kids ready, makes a lunch for everyone, gets herself to work by 8am. She works a full 8 hours. (with, say, a half hour for lunch. That's how my non-academic jobs generally worked.) She gets off at 4:30, and picks up the kids from afterschool or day care. She goes home, makes dinner. (In the real world, most mothers do most of the cooking in their households.) She cleans up, bathes, reads to kids, and all that. Gets them into bed. Then maybe she pays some bills, reds up the kitchen, does some laundry. Then bed.
How about me?
It's the first day off after break. I don't teach classes today.
6am. Get up. Get ready.
7:30 - At the office. I start in on my to-do list.
--the list starts with bureaucratic paperwork. I do that. I do more of that.
--I arrange travel for a conference. I register for the conference. Then I do bureaucratic paperwork (except, of course, it's all on computer, so "paperless.")
10:00 - I start working on the agenda for a committee I chair. I get frustrated by the word processing program adding indents to my list, and make a quick call to the help desk. The quick call takes 20 minutes (but I finish the agenda while I'm on hold!). Then the help desk person asks me if the next person up the line could call back with an answer. I say sure.
--I do a task related to the committee, email the chair, adjust the agenda. I send out the agenda!
11:30 - The help desk person calls back, can't figure it out, and asks to come over. I say sure.
--I grade some student work, and prep some for class presentations in the coming weeks.
11:45 - The help desk person comes with two helpers, and they work at my computer. I get tea and wait. I go talk to a colleague. I keep checking back, but they're not having an easy time.
--They think they've got it! But no, it doesn't work. I clarify what I need to happen (no automatic tabbing) and they finally figure it out and show me. It should have taken the first person two minutes to explain it over the phone.
--I reshelve some books, clean up my desk, and check for the next tasks on my list.
--I get an email to tell me that some of the bureaucratic paperwork I did actually worked, and I'm getting reimbursed!
--I do some conference prep.
12:30 - I think I'm almost ready to go home, but a colleague stops by to ask for help with a course she's teaching next semester (our first year writing course). It's a complicated course, but I print out my course materials from last year and walk her through what I do. Then we talk a bit about what she wants to do.
1:20 - I reorganize a couple of files for my senior seminar reading materials. I put together my stuff to take home for this evening.
1:30 - I leave campus.
1:50 - I get home, have lunch, relax, read this article, get pissed off, write a blog post.
3:00 - Time to get back to work: I need to reread a play, prep to intro two plays in my senior seminar and talk about seminar papers. I need to prep to teach a novel (which I reread this weekend).
What do your days look like?