Nine years ago this month, I entered the somewhat rarefied world of the ivory tower. In exchange for a place in the academy, I worked long hours for low pay, sacrificing many aspects of my personal life. By the time I achieved tenure, I was The Professor … and not much else.
If only my identity came with super cool powers like Dr. X, but I digress.
I’ll admit that the one thing that kept me going for those six years was daydreaming about what my mentee has labelled “Lazy Fat Cat Professor Ways.” I thought I’d have the time to go to the driving range on the way to/from campus. Maybe adopt a kid or two. And, of course, the time I could working at home, sipping tea and eating homemade scones while writing The Book.
As you well know, that never happened. My golf clubs — I kid you not — have been sitting in the hall closet for the last three years. I always come to campus to work. And, kids? Well, I guess I’ve had to settle for three dogs, five cats, and a tank full of hermit crabs.
So, what has happened to these dreams? A low-level, middle-manager administrator’s life, that’s what. First I was a graduate director, then I was a graduate director AND department chair, then I was department chair AND a pseudo-dean. All of these things gave me an inside view of the academy and have served as a good training ground in the fine art of politics. And, I have truly enjoyed a lot of it — curriculum and program planning, mentoring faculty, and so forth.
I feel like I have sacrificed my research on the altar of the Gods of Administration. Sure, I presented a conference paper at that cool international conference last year. Yes, I did have the chance to do three weeks’ of data collection in New Zealand in January. Oh, and I published an article in a state journal. It’s not like I’m completely research-bereft; yet, I still feel my research agenda slipping away from me, mostly because I spend my life sitting in meetings.
But damn it, I still have goals — both research and administrative ones. Thus, in an effort to seek clarity, I have decided to take a step back and analyze my academic life. This year, I have done two things: (1) I have written a master to-do list (teaching, administration, and service) for the Fall semester; and (2) I have set up a spreadsheet to track the amount of time I spend working on research, service, teaching, and administration. At the end of each week, I am going to calculate the ratio of time I spend working on tasks from these four areas.
So, welcome to “The List: The Traveling Ph.D.’s Experiment in Time Management and Manipulation.” Each Monday, I will share my to-do list for the upcoming week. I will also post the time management ratios from the previous week. By the end of the semester, I hope to have a true picture of where my time is going.
If you’re interested in the life of academic administration, you may find this enlightening. If you’re not, ignore The List and read my other stuff. No matter what, I will still be traveling around …
The Traveling Ph.D.
P.S. The first to-do list will actually be posted tomorrow. Keep an eye out.