Note: This blog will be going on Summer Break for June and July! I’ll see you again in August.
For several years now, I have tracked how much time I spend on particular work tasks, as part of an attempt to make sure I’m properly balancing the various components of my job (research, teaching, service/admin). I track this in a google spreadsheet by month (pictured below for May), and update it each week (from my planner daily pages) when I do my weekly planning. I tend to look at the numbers on a weekly and monthly basis, but I have not looked at the larger picture of the semester as a whole. So, I thought I’d do that in this post! In this post, I’m focusing on work, but you can see that I also track dance, home admin, and sleep hours*.
Since my spreadsheet is set up by month and today is the last day of May, I’m counting Spring semester as going from January-May. Technically, we are not in class for the beginning of January (although I start teaching prep the first week) and finals ended May 10 (although grading and reflection lasted for another week). So I suppose if you count the semester by teaching, these numbers include two weeks in May where I did not do any teaching activities, but I think it is still enlightening (for me, anyway). So, what happened in those weeks?
Total Hours: 167
Percent of work time: 22%
Revising two chapters for edited collections
Interviewing students from my Fall Arabic class for research on our curriculum development
Preparing presentations for and attending two conferences
Writing four conference abstracts to submit
Writing a grant proposal (rejected)
Reading articles and books
Total Hours: 162
Percent of work time: 21%
Curriculum development for our second semester Arabic class
Teaching, prep, and grading for half of the second semester Arabic class (3 out of 6 credits)
Teaching, prep, and grading for an online Intro to Languages and Cultures class (minimal prep since this class was designed by my colleague
This actually seemed like a low number of teaching hours for me, so I went back and looked at Fall 2018, when I taught two language classes and was also doing curriculum revisions. Indeed, in Fall 2018 my total teaching hours was 251.5 hours, which just goes to show how much work goes into teaching language classes!
Total Hours: 436
Percent of work time: 57%
Editing and admin tasks for the AATA blog
Applying to become co-editor of the Critical Multilingualism Studies Journal (accepted!)
Recording, editing, and presenting videos focused on language issues related to racial and social justice in general education classes with a faculty cohort focused on this
Administrative tasks for our STARTALK Program
Two college level committees (internal search and teaching awards)
Coordinating reviewers for a conference
Email and other correspondence
Forms and other bureaucratic procedures
Faculty and other meetings
Writing letters of recommendation
Other random tasks I don’t consider research or teaching but don’t remember
So, what are some interesting observations from this semester1) If the Research/Teaching/Service percentages for research faculty are supposed to be 40/40/20, and mine are 22/21/57, clearly I’m way out of balance, mostly due to the service/admin percent. This was so interesting to me that I went back and calculated the same percentages for Fall 2018, and they were (19/31/50). As noted above, I spent more time on teaching during the Fall as I was teaching two language classes, but most of the extra time went to service/admin rather than research in the Spring. So, no wonder I always feel behind on research and teaching!
2) On the other hand, I find some of these service and admin projects (particularly those focused on sharing research publicly, like the blogs and videos) more meaningful. They don’t “count” towards promotion the same way research does, but if I’m doing enough research to progress, do I want to discontinue them?
3) Throughout my weekly reviews this semester, I wanted to improve feelings of scatteredness. Looking at the list of activities from this semester, I think I can explain this, as there are a lot and they are quite varied. Having to jump from activity to activity probably explains the scattered feeling. The thing to do is probably to cut some of the less meaningful service/admin activities, but unfortunately those tend to be required (filling out forms).
Do you track your work or other hours? What interesting trends do you find? And how to you decide what to do with them?
*The sleep is tracked by my Fitbit—these are the hours it says I was sleeping, but I am usually in bed 7-8 hours, it’s just that my kids don’t always sleep through the night so I have a lot of “restless” hours.