What do I do all day?

One of the most common questions an academic gets is “what exactly do we do?” The inconsistent timeline of academic publishing, the rhythm of the academic year, and the wide variation in course taught, grading loads, and service responsibilities can make it very difficult to explain to a member of the non-academic public what we do.

So, for the past 50 days, I’ve used an app called Reporter to document what I do all day. The app for my iPhone bugs me an average of 7 times per day to provide information on what I’m doing. It’s annoying and obtrusive, but I like it anyway.

The application prompts me to enter details at random times throughout the day, but I try to be respectful of the various situations that my job and life require. For example, I don’t report to the application while teaching and I’m fairly disciplined about my 8 hours of sleep each night. The other 16 hours a day are fair game, however.

Of these 16 hours, I work around 68% of them or just under 11 hours a day, every day. 55% of my work day is devoted to writing, reading, or editing, and this is largely research related. 29% goes to teaching related tasks including marking student papers, preparing for class, grading, or teaching. Teaching is under-represented for obvious reasons. 6 hours of my work day involve research and writing and the other 3 involve teaching work. 

32% of my life is dedicated to leisure time or about 5 hours a day. The distribution of this time is even more approximate because my activities are more diverse. That being said, I’ll admit (with some embarrassment) that I watch TV 22% of that time. That’s over an hour a day, but, frankly, most of that happens on the weekends. (NASCAR races are LONG). 35% of my time is dedicated to eating and drinking or about an hour and 45 minutes per day. That’s a healthy 30 minutes for lunch and more leisurely (might I say, slow?) meal in the evening. About 20% of my leisure is dedicated to some kind of exercise, usually walking or biking. 

Just for reference, 3.5% of my day is dedicated to email: that’s a little over 30 minutes. I feel like I do a good job of keeping that monster in check, although I will admit to doing it in little bursts throughout the day and it might be that my sample size is still too small to capture the true impact of email on my daily work regimen.

Part of the reason why no one is quite sure what we do is that we so often do it alone. I spend 67% of my time alone. This number is probably a bit too high and the 6% of the time I spend with other people is probably too low as I spend at least that amount of time each week in the classroom (approximately 6 hours per 77 hour work week or 116 awake week) where I am less likely to report to the application. The 25% of my time I spend with my wife is probably spot on.

I documented where I spent my time as well. I spent 28% of my time in my home office and 21% of my time in my office on campus. 37% of my life happens at home, which I used to designate the kitchen and living room in our house, but not the basement where I workout and spend 4% of my time. I spend 7% of my time other places, but again, this number perhaps should be higher as I tend not to report in unfamiliar social situations or while in the classroom.

This is what my life looks like when plotted on Google Earth. The urban area is Grand Forks.

Google Earth

One final thing that I recorded was whether I exercised or not. I exercise 71% of the days I recorded. I rode my bike 56% of the days and walked another 16%. I don’t know whether this will help at all when I’m tromping around the Argolid, but it has to be better than nothing! 

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