What Do Professors Do All Day? Tuesday

David Wiesner, TuesdayContinuing my mix of narcissism and public service, I bring you day 4 in this week-long series of just what in the heck a college professor does with his or her time.  I hope the “public service” element is winning out over the “narcissism” element, but I have my doubts.  Anyhow, here is…

Tuesday, 22 Feb. 2011.

12:15 am.  One last email (re: Complete Barnaby)

1:20 – 7:30 am. Sleep.

7:30 – 8:00 am. Prepared to run.  Also did quick check of email, FB, and Twitter.

8:00 – 8:47 am.  Ran 4 miles, did chin-ups at park en route (see Sunday for details).

9:00 – 9:35 am.  Post-run exercises (see Sunday for details).

9:35 – 10:00 am.  Quick breakfast, shower, etc.

10:00 – 10:15 am.  Car swap (Karin and I share a car, and I need it this afternoon), during which I also picked up (from my campus office) some books I need to write about today, and left a quiz taped to my door (for a student who missed it yesterday).

10:15 – 10:35 am.  Email to NYU P re: Keywords for Children’s Literature (forthcoming in June), and to my colleagues re: Reading Matters, the Dept. newsletter.  Also added items to the next issue of Reading Matters.

10:35 – 11:30 am.  Had a great chat with Eric Reynolds (at Fantagraphics) re: Complete Barnaby.  I’m so excited to be working with him for this project – Fantagraphics does such beautiful work.  Anyhow, we each have our to-do lists.  And so… onwards!

11:30 – 11:35 am.  Quick FB check, and Twitter check.  One of the more amusing events of the day is being followed by (and starting to follow) Leopold Von Ranke (German historian, 1795-1886) on Twitter.  Quite witty for a dead man – or even a live one.

11:35 – 11:50 am.  Back to Reading Matters.

11:50 am – 12:25 pm. To quote Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), “Lunch break!  Lunch break!”  While I was at it, I assembled all but the sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch, & unloaded / loaded dishwasher.

12:25 – 12:50 pm.  Spoke (over gmail chat) with my friend Jennifer Hughes about her baby shower this past weekend.  She’s due next month.  Exciting!

12:50 – 1:45 pm.  Worked on this blog, made Complete Barnaby To-Do List, email (all work).  Also paid bills (a non-work item).

2:00 – 3:00 pm.  Gym.  Though it sounds like Orwellian double-speak, working out is not work.  It’s not part of my job, but regular exercise does help me do the job better (as I’ve noted on both Saturday’s and Sunday’s posts).

3:15 – 3:35 pm.  ChLA-MLA liaison business: responded to email, updated ChLA’s info. on the MLA’s website.  I had no idea that this task fell within my purview.  I mean: it makes sense, but I simply didn’t know!  Also: another Complete Barnaby email.

3:55 – 4:05 pm.  Picked up Karin from campus.  (She teaches a 3-hour class tonight & thus is home earlier today.)

4:10 – 4:20 pm.  Checked FB, Twitter.

4:15 – 5:15 pm.  Graded response papers for English 703.  Answered email.

5:15 – 6:05 pm.  Read more of Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie to Karin, during dinner prep.  Then, dinner with Monday’s Colbert Report.

6:05 – 6:55 pm. Finished grading response papers for English 703.  I definitely spend too long on these, but my hope is that the thoroughness with which I grade them will provide guidance for both future responses and the longer paper.

6:55 – 7:05 pm. Actually put the grades on the papers & entered them into the gradebook.  I prefer to assign all grades last because it enforces consistency.  (While grading, I place them in piles; at the end, I compare comments to make sure that each paper belongs in right category.)

7:05 – 9:25 pm.  Prepared English 703.  Also posted new question on the class’s electronic message board – I intended to do this last night, but other tasks displaced that one.

9:25 – 9:35 pm.  Made sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch, started dishwasher.  Music listened to during this: Kanye West with Bon Iver, “Lost in the World” (my favorite track from this album); the Temptations, “I Know I’m Losing You” (classic); Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” (a stunning new song that sounds classic).  Some of these may be on the next uptempo mix.

9:35 – 9:55 pm.  Since I know more about Seuss than most, for my final Seuss day in English 355, I’ve invited my students to post questions (on the electronic message board) about Seuss.  This means that each section will be a little different tomorrow.  Both will cover certain subjects, but each will also have some features unique to that section.  So… spent time checking the message boards to see the students’ requests, and gathered the necessary Seuss material to bring in tomorrow.

9:55 – 10:05 pm.  Squandered some time listening to music.  Tinkering with two midtempo mixes.

10:05 - 11:10 pm. Worked on “Radical Children’s Literature Now!”, the talk Julia and I will give at ChLA in June.  Took notes on several books.  Drafted a paragraph.

11:10 – 11:30 pm.  Back with the mixes, tinkering.  Not sure if I’ll get more done today….

11:30 – 11:40 pm.  Proofread this, tallied up hours.

I’m calling that 8.5 hours, but please do correct me if I’m off a few minutes (it’s late, my brain is a feeling a little fuzzy).  Not as full a day as yesterday (11.5 hours), but, then, I work every day of the week.  I can’t work every hour of every day.  Well, I suppose I could, but it’s good to take out time for physical and mental health (with, say, exercise for the former, chatting with friends for the latter).

If you found this surprisingly less tedious and self-indulgent than expected, I invite you to stop by again.  I’ll be continuing this curious experiment through Friday.

The rest of this series: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & What Do Professors Do All Week? (the final post).

More posts on academia from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):


  1. Reply

    I hope you’re not apologizing for working 8.5 instead of 11.5 hours! 8.5 of thoughtful work is tough work.

  2. Lia


    I find the time length of work increments very interesting! Reminds me of debates I had with my housemate in grad school about whether working no one’s tasks into longer chunks of time, or dividing them into shorter bits was more productive. What do you think? I suppose it depends on one’s mood and what the tasks are…

    I thought of your blog this morning when I saw this news item:

    Let’s hope it never comes to that at most universities!

  3. Jennifer Hughes


    What’s interesting about your blog, Phil, is that we can see how you’re constantly working on a variety of projects in what seems like small increments (as Lia notes above). Publishing is a slow gig from what I’ve seen of it (as a pretty newly-minted PhD), but damn, you churn those conference papers, articles, and books out. Makes me feel like I could do more with the 15-35 minute chunks of time floating around in my life…

  4. Reply

    Thanks, all, for the kind comments! Lia: Geez, I’d hate to work there. But thanks for the link! I think that, if I had large chunks of time (as I do in the summer), then I would use them. I don’t, and so this method develops of necessity. Jennifer: Yeah, you know, on one level, I’m sort of conscious that I work this way, but it doesn’t occur to me to stop and think about or describe it. But what you say is true — the “small increments” bit is the way to go. The curious (and perhaps obvious) thing is that it works. If you write a paragraph each day, then in a week you have seven paragraphs. And, Sarah, yes I am apologizing: Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? ;-)

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