Chris Gammell and I were chatting the other day (well, five minutes ago) about the hours that a professor works. And in that discussion, I was reminded of a post by GMP a few months ago, basically describing how no one cares about your work life balance. Now, I’ll pause for a minute for you to read her post.
Pause for effect…
Ok, so first I’ll hit the hours question and then tie in my little figure in above. The hours that I’ve worked so far haven’t been crazy. That’s probably because it is the middle of the summer and because I’m only supervising one student. My daily schedule is roughly: up at 5:45 am, leave house at 7:15-7:30 (Myself, DrWife, and NanoGEARS), get on campus ~8, work until 5, NanoGEARS in bed by 7, sleep sometime between 10 and 11. Most days, I drop NanoGEARS off and DrWife picks her up. I haven’t polled anyone but I could imagine that’s a fairly reasonable schedule (for the summer), give or take an hour.
I’ve only had one taste of late night proposal writing, which was only for a few days. It was annoying and I complained a lot about being tired, but it got done, and I feel like I did my share without dragging ass. I think it was really 3-4 nights where I was on the same routine but worked on the proposal from around 9 until midnight or 1 am, which isn’t too bad IMHO.
In the fall, I fully expect this to change. My expectation is that I’ll have to work at night for a few hours during the week when there’s a deadline looming. Between teaching, class prep, general advising, student supervision, papers, and proposals, a lot of things can pile up at once that will cause a drop in sleep. I’ll keep the masses posted if it changes dramatically.
The bigger issue with my schedule is compromising with DrWife because she, like me, has to travel for work and may have to work crazy hours due to her own proposals, deadlines, and research. For instance, DrWife is on the other side of the world right now, which leaves me with NanoGEARS and some in-laws that were kind enough to help out for a week.
I do sympathize with GMP’s take on work-life balance and how no one really cares. While priority number one at work means building a successful research group, I don’t want to be successful while sacrificing my overall number one priority, which is my family. I know there is faculty with the traditional setup (husband puts food on the table, wife takes care of house/kids) and my vocal work-life balance might not sit too well with them. Tough luck.
I do realize that will perceived differently than GMP’s situation. Men with families are generally viewed in a positive light (irrespective of their actual involvement in the family), whereas women are seen as doing a disservice to their family (even when they are supermomsresearchersprofessorsteachers), which is ridiculous. But, as I commented on GMP’s post, I’m in academia and DrWife is in industry. My schedule should be more flexible than hers so I expect I’ll have to pick up the brunt of doctors visits, sick days, and whatnot. That probably means I’ll have to spend more than a few nights working when everyone else is asleep, but sometimes, that’s part of life. It’s not like I didn’t know it going into this position.
For you profs out there, how does your schedule change during the school year versus the summer? What’s a typical daily schedule for you. Obviously we would all like 60 hours in the day with 10 set aside for sleep, but when you have to sacrifice something, which usually drops first? Student advising? Papers? Proposals? Research? Teaching? Service? Family?