Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today in Crazy's Workload - a Week-Long Series

First, the rules:

1) What counts as work:
  • Meetings (even if they happen over a meal or in a hallway, if something substantive is discussed)
  • Chatting with students (again, if that conversation covers something substantive - not just hey how are you)
  • Grading/responding to student work
  • Time spent in class
  • Time spent planning for class
  • Research (because, dudes, that is work)
  • Email, if work-related.
  • Service activities
  • Admin Stuff (time spent in office + any outside time spent)
2) How time will be counted: In increments of 15 minutes. If the time spent falls in between, I'll round lower or higher depending, i.e., 7 minutes or less is rounded down; 8 minutes or greater is rounded up.

3) I will designate work done at home as such.

Today's tally:

1.5 hours - commenting on drafts for one class. home
1. 25 hours - reading/prepping for one class. home
.75 hour - prepping for another class (included compiling some stuff and planning an activity)
1 hour - attendance at Important Event Related to Our Non-Existent Budget/also prepping for meeting (I am a multitasker).
1 hour - meeting for standing committee.
1.5 hours - department meeting
.5 hour - responding to email, prep for meeting
2.5 hours - teaching, grading (again with the multitasking while students did an activity.
.5 hour - 2 conversations with colleagues related to program administration stuff.

10.5 hours

In this tally I did not count hanging in a colleague's office for 10 minutes to gossip, nor did I count a chat that I had with BFF. I also didn't count travel time to and from meetings. 2.75 of my hours clocked took place at home, which would make it appear that I had a less than 8 hour workday, and that's only if we notice all of the meetings. If we only notice classtime, then my workday was a brief 2.5 hours. Note that no research took place on this day, and actually no service, unless we count meetings as service (which I do like to do). This is a fairly typical Wednesday in the Life of Crazy, with some activities changed out for others. It's worth noting also that advising is basically over for us, so the week's activities that I will recount between now and next Wednesday will actually be a low-time-commitment time period, in which I don't have a tremendous amount of grading (only one batch of student papers - >20) or student meetings happening. In other words, the time clocked here will likely be lower than it would be at other times during the semester.

Ok, so more work happened tonight.

.5 hour - designed peer review sheet for upper-level course research paper home (though did not type it, and yes, I suppose I could have composed on the computer, but I can't think in typing for certain things, and this is one of them and since it should take me like 5 mins to type that shouldn't be a padding to the total for the week). Also alphabetized papers from another class (and yes, that is work).

That brings me up to 11 hours for the day.


Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Nice idea.

I'm thinking about advising right now and how often that's unevenly distributed (often in a sort of negative feedback sort of way: the worse an adviser you are, the easier your workload becomes because your advisees - given any sort of choice - will see out someone else). And as I mentioned in a comment on Maggie's post, often those differences happen in relation to other faculty-uncontrollable criteria.

I was thinking today about the difference in departmental pay and how at my University I make less than the professors in departments that have very few majors (and hence, very little advising), though in theory we do the same amount of work.

Dr. Crazy said...

Oh, you can't even start to think about differences in departmental pay (and in my case, also workload) for that way madness lies. People in business at my university have a 3-3, and they have fewer majors than in my dept as well as like no service courses. They make *thousands* of dollars more than I do, and have a lot more admin support. Thinking about that? That way madness lies :)

Dr. Crazy said...

As for advising: make sure they switch to you officially. Sure, it may not count for much, but get credit for the advising that you do, esp. pre-tenure. I have like 10 advisees more than many of my colleagues, and I take credit for that (although it's lame credit).

Dr. Curmudgeon said...

The one part of the triplicate form that is always readable is the part that's got my name on it. I keep numbers and put them in my annual review.

You're right about the madness, though: it's pretty much the same situation here. But I think it's got to be mentioned in these discussions because so many of us - myself included - don't reveal which departments we're in, and that inequity could more than account for some of the complaints.

Sisyphus said...

Wait, meetings don't count as service? Then what is service? And what the hell am I trying to get myself into?

Dr NotADr said...

I have a question for you.

I am, at the moment, very close to becoming a doctoral student at one of a few universities. The reason I was interested in it was that I have personally known a few professors, and all have managed to avoid being heavily overworked. In fact, some of them seem to work 30 hours a week or less, and this seems to have been possible to attain close to out of the gate, at least if one chooses their dissertation topic carefully. This was, however, in the general business area. In short - they didn't have to do much, and I am acting on the rather emphatic advice of an uncle who is one of these.

As such, I have the following questions: 1. Does this depend on the type of school? If so, what kinds of schools should be AVOIDED (for teaching at) along these lines? 2. How realistic IS this? Is this isolated to the business area or is it generally available?

I'm very concerned about this for obvious reasons and time grows short. Any thoughts you can give me would be appreciated. I am starting to seriously wonder if I am getting into something I will regret.

Dr. Crazy said...

Ah,the meetings vs. service question. Here's what my experience has taught me. SOME meetings can count as service, but it's only visible if something concrete comes out of the meeting. For example, if one is on the strategic planning committee and you present the plan. Or if you're on a search committee and you produce the hire. But the meetings themselves go largely unnoticed. Also, things like department meetings or a reception where the president attends or whatever are required (visibility) but don't count as service. They don't really count as anything except for they're mandatory. So you spend time, and energy, but it doesn't ultimately translate into any kind of, well, anything.

But so anyway, here's an example: I'm on my dept's curriulum committee. We meet for approx. 1 hour once a month (unless it's the busy catalog copy season, when sometimes we meet more.) "Curriculum committee" is one teensy line on my cv, and if it weren't for one document that I produced then nobody would even pay attention to the fact that I am on it. I probably spend approx. 15 hours per year on curr. committee stuff (betw. meetings and prep for meetings) but that time ultimately doesn't really mean anything to how I'm evaluated.

Dr. Notadr:

Hmm. Well, first let me say that I'm not a business prof. Business is a high-demand field, and there are perks to that fact. BUT if you think that you're going to have a 30-hr week as a newly minted PhD, I'd suggest that's probably a fantasy that will not come true, at least not before tenure (which takes 6-7 years to get) and maybe not even after. How long have these PhDs that you know been academics? How long have they been tenured? If you talk to somebody who's been tenured for 20 years their view of the profession (even within my field) is HUGELY different from somebody who's currently on the tenure track. Research requirements for tenure are increasing at even the least competitive universities; with the current economic downturn and many states in budget crisis class sizes and other demands on profs will increase as part of a general belt-tightening scheme. That's just reality.

Now. Again, business is a high-demand discipline. So you do get the luxury of thinking about what type of institution you'd like to work at and you might even get some choice in the matter. BUT I'd argue that no institution is "less" work than any other - it's just different kind of work. All institutions have research, teaching, and service. Some people conveniently don't count research as part of their workload (they love what they do! Whatever) but it takes time and energy and skill. So at a research university, you will teach less, which in some ways is a workload reduction, but you will be expected to produce much more research than anybody at my kind of institution would ever have to produce. It's all about choices and tradeoffs, and I really think that it's not likely that there are any free rides - not in today's academy.

Here's the thing: why are you considering a career path that is a huge commitment but about which you aren't passionate? Haven't you ever heard the saying, "There's no such thing as a free lunch"? If the only reason you want to be a professor is because you think you won't really have to work very hard, I'd suggest you should think a bit harder about what you're going to do with your life. The job of a professor is good and rewarding, etc., but honestly, if I had colleagues with the attitude that you offer here (and I've worked closely with colleagues in the College of Business at my institution so this is not field specific), I'd hate their guts and I wouldn't be terribly subtle about that fact.

Belle said...

You started me logging too, and I'm counting those hours spent in professional appearances (mandated service as well as in support of campus stuff I deem important: faculty development seminars, library open houses that highlight faculty coordination and cooperation, etc.) I count those as they are counted on our P&T docs: community service/activity. I didn't put 'em on my P&T lists of stuff, but it went in my cover letters and nearly always was noted in the PTB comments as 'she participates in the life of the campus."

I think your advice to Dr Notadr is excellent; I've never understood people who'd go through the hell of grad school so they could do something they didn't love.

Dr. Curmudgeon said...

In my experience, most meetings are assumed to be part of some larger bit of service.

For example, departmental meetings are assumed to be a standard part of the deal. Committee meetings - no matter how few or frequent - wind up counting as part of the overall committee work: this is one reason why some committees are seen as ideal to serve on and some aren't.