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Logging my time (Week four of Spring Semester 2018)

Number three in a series.

As long as I’m logging my time, I might as well keep reflecting on patterns I see in my time logs [1]. In week 2 of the semester of the semester, I worked about sixty-six hours. In week 3, the time went up to seventy-five hours. It seemed like I was going in the wrong direction.

What about this week?

If we count musings, I spent over 42 hours in the first three days of the week alone [2]. Of course, part of the reason is that I had alumni mentors in town on Wednesday, so I spent from about 11 a.m. to about 8 p.m. with the mentors. That time included two meals. They were clearly working meals. Thursday was better. I only worked for seven hours on Thursday, including the time I spent musing. Why? Eldest was back in town, and I decided I should spend time with him [3]. We also had a swim banquet for Youngest. Friday I took time to see Middle dive [4] and to attend the annual Grinnell Lecture [7,8]. Saturday, I also took time to see Middle dive [9], to run errands, to have dinner with friends, and to see Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn [10]. Sunday I spent doing work.

The total time on work? About sixty-six hours, not including musings but including both the Grinnell Lecture and time with the alumni. That’s still on the high side, but it’s better than last week. It’s also better than week 2, since some of the work was on the less-stressful side.

Where did that time go? I spent ten hours work on issues related to student volunteers at SIGCSE. I spent almost fourteen on CSC 151 [11]. I spent eleven on CSC 321 and CSC 322, but a lot of that went to the mentors’ visits. I spent eight hours on email.

However, there are clear negatives to working that little. I didn’t manage to write a complete set of instructions for two recent assignments for CSC 321. I didn’t finish grading the CSC 151 exam. And there are a bunch of other things that weigh on me.

There are also clear negatives to working that much. I missed time with Eldest on Sunday, since I hadn’t realized that he was home and he did not want to interrupt my work. I’d rather be further behind and have spent more time with him. I’ll do my best to keep that feeling in mind the next time he visits.

One of our more successful alums said that they keep their academic work week to forty hours. I’m still trying to figure out how that’s possible. In any case, more than sixty hours per week is too much. Nonetheless, I think I have too much catching up for the first half of the semester to get under sixty, or perhaps even under sixty-five [12]. My goal for the second half of the semester is fifty hours per week, plus time for musing.

I see from Facebook that one of my colleagues is in the same overwork situation. That makes me sad. I suggested that we form a support group, but it’s not clear that either of us has the time. Someone suggested That seems worth trying. But there’s always the question of How do I find the time to plan to make better use of my time? It’s also what stops me from setting up a Getting Things Done approach to my work. Maybe week one of spring break will work. We shall see.

Postscript: After reading the previous time log musing, someone asked What are you using to keep the log? Is it something I could use too?

I replied as follows.

Um … I use a text file and a command I type in terminal to gather data. For others, I’d suggest a spreadsheet. Or I bet the ProfHacker site has suggestions about good time logging software. The key is that you don’t want it to add too much to your time. I do coarse-grained data, perhaps 10-20 entries per day.

[1] I’ll probably skip a week once in a while, particularly if there’s nothing new to note.

[2] In my model, the first three days of the week are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

[3] Michelle notes that I spent some of the non-working time on non-work tasks that did not involve interaction with people, such as trying (and failing) to get taxes in order.

[4] Also to see the other divers. I’ll miss seeing senior divers: the SGA president, the cellist [5], and the senior diver with hair as wild as Middle’s.

[5] I’ll also mist the cellist’s enthusiastic support of their teammates [6].

[6] I did get a great video of the cellist’s applause after Middle made a great 2.5 rotation.

[7] There have been three Grinnell lectures so far. Each has come at a point in the semester in which I could not keep my eyes open at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday night. This semester, I succeeded in doing so. Shonda Kuiper gave an excellent talk. We’re lucky to have her.

[8] Do I count that as work?

[9] Due to miscommunication, I didn’t get to see Middle’s three last dives in person. I would have rather seen those than have dinner and see a concert.

[10] I’ll probably muse about that concert in the next day or so.

[11] That wasn’t nearly enough. I have a lot more work to go on grading the exam that I hoped to grade over the weekend.

[12] Should sixty-five be hyphenated in this situation? Grammarly says it should, but I’m not so sure.

Version 1.0 of 2018-02-20.