I’ve recently seen a few people posting about their “typical days” and I thought this seemed like a cool idea for a blog post — what do I do all day and how does the life of a college English lecturer unfold? The problem is, I have two very different kinds of days during the week.
With the teaching schedule I have, I’m only required to be on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays (unless we have a Wednesday faculty meeting or something extra comes up). This is why people think teachers have it easy. Summer vacations! Two-day-a-week schedules! It’s not really what it seems, though: I mean, for one thing, if I took the summer off, I would be unemployed and without money for three months. Not exactly a “vacation,” which is why I beg to teach as many classes as they can give me in the summers.
My two-day-a-week schedule comes with its difficulties as well. I get to campus by 7:00 am at the latest to get ready for my day, which officially begins at 8:00. I am in a classroom teaching from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm without a lunch break, though I do have 15 minutes between classes. This consists of public speaking and discussion leading, two things that, for me, are very exhausting. After classes end, I stay for office hours, which are filled with student meetings, student emails, prep work, grading, paperwork, updating the classes’ Blackboard websites, desperately shoving food down my calorie-hole, and colleague drop-bys. This lasts until at least 4:00 pm, but more likely 5:00 pm (I tend to get involved in what I’m doing and not notice I’ve stayed late). Those two days are completely exhausting, both mentally and physically (yes, lecturing in heels is physically tiring). The day flies by, though, because I am busy-busy-busy, and for the most part doing my favorite things: talking about reading and writing. This is why I do it.
But! Sweet, sweet freedom is to be had on the other days! If I’m not in classes or meetings, I can work from home. These are the days I can make use of my glorious home office and do prep-work, reading, research, writing, and grading. Through the magic of the Dropbox app (highly recommended), I have access to all the same files on my home laptop as I would in my campus office, and I can sit here in my pajamas with a dog or cat at my feet (unpaid interns) and work all day, if I like.
What I usually do is start the morning with my workout (run, yoga, or a weights class these days), come home, shower, have breakfast, answer emails, and then figure out what else I need to get done for the day. If I’m good, I can get everything done by mid afternoon and call it a day. These days I also often do my random errands, shopping, and household stuff. It’s nice to be able to hit the grocery store when most people are in classes.
This can be a wonderful schedule. The two classroom days are often brutally hard, but I can recover on the other days. Last weekend, for example, my man friend and I spent all day Saturday having an epic Lord of the Rings marathon, watching the extended editions of all three films on BluRay and ordering Thai delivery. It was delightful and cozy and perfect.
This weekend I spent Saturday doing some much-needed cleaning, organizing, and puttering around the house and then went to some friends’ house to watch the Oregon/LSU game. While the game was a disappointment, I did get to hold a four-week-old baby and give her a bottle and burp her, which was a lovely little distraction from the Ducks’ loss.
Sundays I like to sleep in as much as possible, and then spend the morning/early afternoon lounging and drinking coffee. I try not to schedule too much to do on Sundays, though once big assignments start rolling in at school, Sunday usually becomes a catch-up day for grading anything I didn’t get done earlier in the week. I try to limit that to afternoons/early evenings, though, so I can stop work at dinner time.
I tend to have a rule about working after dinner: I just don’t do it. I have so many collagues who work late into the night, leave social functions early to go grade more, or spend the entire weekend grading/working. I mean, hey, whatever works for you, right? But I am saying: that absolutely does not work for me. I have to draw a firm line between the workweek and the nights and weekends and I really only violate that division in extreme circumstances. Nights and weekends are mine, as much as I can possibly keep them mine. I may not have the typical M-F 8-5 job, but I like to constrain my work to those days and times regardless.
Currently, it is Sunday afternoon and I am busily uploaing photos of the aforementioned lovely baby girl to flickr (I took some portraits for her birth announcements), sipping coffee, and writing this blog post. I haven’t gotten dressed yet for the day and I’ve got a mug of hot (but slowly cooling) coffee at hand. It seems like this week has worked out exactly right. And with that, I’m off to do some more relaxing!