Friday, April 18, 2008

Crazy's Workload, Day Three

Well, today was a weird day in my workload because a lunch meeting with a colleague ended up extending into a meeting that took an entire afternoon (not unpleasantly). But so I didn't do many things I'd imagined myself doing this afternoon, but I did have good collegial bonding and we discussed lots of things related to some courses we're developing, tenure, curriculum, service, etc. In other words, we weren't just gossiping but rather we were ironing out a lot of things that could well come into play in concrete ways in the next year. In a week of meetings, this was my best meeting so far.

In other news, tonight I have to go to our honor society's induction ceremony/dinner. (Well, I suppose I could have said no, but they only invite select faculty and I really think that it's important to attend this sort of event because we really don't do enough of this sort of thing with our students.)

So, my workload today:

5 hours - meeting
2 hours - induction (I'm estimating here, because I haven't actually gone yet, but I imagine that will be about the length of time).
7 hours

Now, some would say that I shouldn't count these things as "work" because they are pleasant. That is so totally bogus. It's like saying that my friend who works in the insurance industry shouldn't count cocktails with clients, even though she's expected to wine and dine them, because it's "fun." Here's the thing: I think one is *lucky* if the work that one does is fun, but I don't think that somehow that means it isn't work. One of the problems with how people characterize academic work is that they think that if a professor enjoys something that they do that it shouldn't end up in the tally. Like research "feeds the soul" or something and thus it's not part of the job. I blame the Puritans for this sort of nonsensical view of things. Work doesn't need to be punishment for it to *count*. So today I didn't set foot on campus, but by 9 or so tonight I'll have put in a full day's work. Sure, that work will have been conducted at two restaurants, but it is *not* how I'd have spent my time if this weren't my *job*. So whether meeting with my colleague or going to this dinner for students is pleasurable for me really isn't the point. Sure, I wouldn't count this "work" in the same way as I count other kinds of work that I do, mainly because I like doing it more than some of the other kinds of work that I do. But that doesn't make it Not Work somehow.

You know what I'm liking most about this experiment? I'm liking that I'm articulating (to myself more than anything) the many different kinds of work that make up my specific job. I think one of the reasons that I've thrived at this institution is because the types of work that I do for it vary so much. I'm never bored. I've worked other jobs, and they've been boring. That sucks. In this job, well, I do some boring things, but most of what I do is really stimulating. And even the boring things are punctuated by things that are not. And I think this is one of the benefits of this career path, even though one has to give up other things in exchange (ahem, money).

So no job is perfect, and I'm not saying that mine is. And I'm also not saying that this is what every academic job looks like. But when we think about the mysteries of "fit" and the vagaries of the tenure process, I think that this sort of experiment goes a long way toward demystifying and clarifying. And yes, I work hard, and I work a lot. But every day is different. And I do lots of different things. And I decide what I do and when. And you know what? That really works for me. It doesn't stress me out, even if it means that there's a lot of uncertainty that goes with the territory. And that is perhaps the biggest lesson that I'm learning from doing this: that I'm really well suited to the work that I'm doing, in terms of my personality and in terms of what talents I bring to the table.

In other news, my summer courses have made their enrollment and Project Pay Off Credit Cards is progressing according to plan. But now I've got to get ready to go and hang with students and colleagues.


Belle said...

I wish my own Pay Off CC project was progressing as nicely. Between unexpected medical costs for self and pup, I'm behind in the plan.

I too like the articulation of what constitutes work. Yours is forcing my own; go Crazy!

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Oh, I totally agree that "social" work events count as work. They entirely do.

A few weeks back I had a day that went from 8 am (breakfast reception) to 10:30 pm (dinner with alums). In between were presentations, lunch, meetings, and a happy hour reception. I even brought 402 to the later reception and dinner ... but it entirely was work. Indeed, I spent a lot of time talking to students and schmoozing alums even though I had a drink in my hand and 402 by my side.

Feminist Avatar said...

Do you also count 'thinking' time? You know the article you plan on the way to work. The reading you catch up with in the bath.