30 nov. 2007

Working at least two hours a day for four months (122 days in this case) did produce five chapters of a book plus an introduction, leaving me three chapters and a conclusion to go. And I still have December left. My concentration got better over the course of the August-November period, so I can actually get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time.

I know most people don't have two hours a day for four or five months straight. I'm very lucky to have an NEH Fellowship this year. If you are on the tenure track or tenured at a research university, you are actually supposed to be working 40% of your active working time on research (where I work at least). So even if you only worked a 40 hour week (you'll be doing much more usually), that amounts to sixteen hours a week. So what I'm suggesting is a 14 hours minimum: two hours seven days a week, which is two hours less than sixteen. But I'm assuming that you do that through the summer too, not just during your 9-month appointment.

The problem with the school year is that service, supposedly 20%, takes up more than eight hours a week. and teaching, another 40% takes more than sixteen, assuming I am in class six hours and reading for class, preparing, grading, and dealing with the students for more than 10 hours each week.

In addition, I personally need several hours a day for reading, thinking, blogging, etc... that has nothing to do with research, teaching, or service in any MEASURABLE way. I need to read the New York Review of Books, poetry outside my "field," Andrew Shields' and Joseph Duemer's blog, etc... I need to read things in my field even if I will never do "research" on them or use them in my teaching. Not wasted time at all but time that is not counted as "productive." If I hadn't been doing that kind of "work" I would never have written the book on Lorca, because I wouldn't have had that idea without letting my mind wander for hours wherever it wants to. I'm sure every other academic in the world feels the same need.

So when I get back to "work" after my lazy year, I'm going to have to readjust my system a bit. I've always been bad at time management because I've never known where work ends and where the thinking, reading, "idle' time starts.

4 comentarios:

Karen Perkins dijo...

I am a high school science teacher. Still, I find time to write -- not two hours a day, but sometimes. I carve out little windows, escapes. I use this time to study the web, sites like yours, to see what others have out there. I'm trying so hard to improve my writing; I'm my little MFA program all on my own.
I'm starting a blogspot called karenperkins.blogspot.com.

Mark Statman dijo...

Frankly I think those of us who work in academic have a good life. We mainly focus on work that matters to us, we get to teach in ways that are exciting, our writing is taken seriously as a condition for our success, we get leaves, grants, summers. We even have colleagues with whom we can have terrific conversations. I did love being on leave last semester to write as much as I did, but I do like being back in the thick of things. Even a good committee meeting, where smart people talk smart pedagogy.

Jonathan dijo...

There are definitely those benefits. I couldn't imagine doing work that was just work. The interesting challenge is always to bring back those insights from the leave into the classroom and department again. For example, I am going to apply the two hours of writing principle to teaching in a way yet to be determined.

Andrew Shields dijo...

Wow, I'm touched. Thanks for listing little ol' me with the NYRB!

Andrew-with-very-little-time-for-blog-reading-these-days (let alone writing)