WDGSDAD? Final Installment

For reasons that will be explained near the close of my post, this will be my last installment of “What Do Graduate Students Do All Day?” and I will compose some reflections at its end.

7.45 I wake and hop into the shower. I am certainly one of those people who can do their best thinking at the most inconvenient times (just before I fall asleep, while driving, and so on) and this morning was no exception. I still can’t say with certainty whether or not I shampooed my hair once or twice as I was mentally preparing for today’s meeting and totally lost track.

9.00 Leave home.

9.20 Arrive at the English department. As I am about to start reading emails in a friend’s office, I notice my water bottle has leaked over my bag and have to rescue my possessions, including many of my dissertation notes.

9.40 Slightly less flustered than I was a few minutes previously, I meet with the Associate Director of the Writing Center.

10.20 We head over to share our resources and answer questions at a department faculty meeting. It was wonderful to hear about their graduate students and how they are currently supporting them as well as to consider new initiatives.

11.05 After the meeting, Kathleen and I debrief over coffee. This is also a rare opportunity to hear from an academic I highly respect about her career and her family. As I anticipate several babies joining me along the road to becoming a tenured professor, it matters so much to hear about other people’s experiences. I am grateful for my colleague, Sarah Moon, who was another inspiration for this blog with her incredibly powerful account of a usual day as a graduate student with a small child.

12.25 Stopping by the department office, I get the opportunity to catch up with some colleagues about life beyond our work.

1.10 Head home to enjoy some lunch and relax.

2.00 I spend around half hour working through both Writing Center and research-related emails.

5.30 I am back on my laptop for around forty minutes to contact the kind colleagues who will be covering our writing retreat tomorrow. My original plan for Saturday was to document how the Writing Center runs these events and how I am able to use them to write myself, including some information on what drafting a chapter might look and feel like. However, I will instead be travelling out of state tomorrow to visit my partner’s family as his grandfather is extremely sick. The boundless generosity of my colleagues in jumping to my aid means more than I can say.

Work for Writing Center: 3 hours 40 minutes

 Research time: 15 minutes (+ possible reading time this evening)

Total: 3 hours 55 minutes

I won’t really be able to illustrate my average working week, and won’t even attempt to by summing up these daily hours, because a more productive day today and tomorrow would have brought these numbers up considerably. For example, a usual retreat involves around 2 hours of work for the Writing Center and 6 hours for research time.


The weeks that I didn’t blog about can certainly look like this comic from Piled Higher and Deeper 

One number I also want to share, however, is my step count! I find it difficult to find the time and energy for exercising during the semester so I’m an avid walker. I’m pleased that my days on campus this week all averaged around 5000 steps as my average for October was closer to 4000 steps per day, according to my iPhone.

During our conversation today, Kathleen reflected on how women’s time, in particular, can be scrutinized and this is especially true of academics. Why would I or others blog like this if we didn’t anticipate a prurient interest?! However, this exercise was not designed to provoke guilt in either myself or others, although the former certainly happened. So many other ways exist of quantifying my week that might be more productive and certainly the qualitative aspects matter even more. I may try this again in the future, despite how very exposing it felt to make this information public. We could all benefit from appreciating the many and diverse ways of living an academic life, and I hope my example leads to others with very different life challenges following suit.

Thank you for watching The Eleanor Show. Good afternoon, good evening, and good night!


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