There's an interesting discussion going on over at the Smoker (on what started out as a "hiring" thread) where people are sharing what their jobs are like: viz., how many courses they teach, how much time people spend working each week, etc. I think this is a useful discussion to have because, frankly -- and as that thread indicates -- there is so much variability in working conditions that, all too often, people are sometimes unaware of. Work in an R1 with a 2/2 load is way different than working in a SLAC with a 3/3 load, which is in turn way different than teaching a 4/4 or 5/5 load or adjuncting.
I think it is important to communicate these realities for a number of reasons. First, knowing the realities can be helpful to undergraduates thinking of pursuing graduate school, as well as for graduate students before they head out onto the market (it's good to know in advance what you may be "signing up for"!). Second, I think it may be important for our colleagues across the discipline -- including people on search committees -- to know what things are like in different positions. I've known some people in really difficult conditions -- people with high teaching loads -- who have published up a storm; and if I were on a search committee, I would think this would be relevant to evaluating the candidate.
Finally, prior to the Smoker thread, I've had a number of people (grad students and some faculty) suggest to me that it might be intrinsically helpful to them to get an idea of how people in the profession spend their time. The general questions I've been asked here are these: "What is "normal"? How much time weekly do people spend on research, teaching, etc.?" Indeed, for those of us who are in academic jobs, discussing "what normal life is like" in different types of jobs may enable us to think about and discuss important work-life balance issues.
What I would like to do here, then, is ask you all to share what your typical work week looks like. Allow me to begin.
I have had two full-time academic jobs since grad school. I spent one year at the University of British Columbia, and then the past handful of years at the University of Tampa -- and my typical work week between them couldn't be more different. At UBC, I had a 2/2 teaching load, TA's to do grading, and no administrative duties. I taught one class for 50 minutes MWF and one class for 75 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Finally, both of my classes were in my AOS (Intro to Ethics and Intro to Political).
Basically, I had a ton of time to do research. Because I knew the material I was teaching like the back of my hand, I spent most of my work days, almost every day, working on research. Monday through Friday, I would basically get to the office at 9am, teach one 50 or 75 minute course, spend maybe 6 hours a day doing research, hit the gym for an hour, and head home (I've long had a work-life balance rule for not doing work at night or on weekends; I break this rule only very occasionally). On average, I think I worked 40 hours a week: about 8 hours a day, mostly on research.
Strangely, through, despite having so much time for research, and despite spending so much time doing it, I was spectacularly unproductive. I spent the whole year working on a couple of papers, and published only one short reply that year. Partly, I think I was just struggling to learn how to publish. But, as I will now explain, I don't think it was just that. Somewhat paradoxically, my experience has been that having less time to do research has improved my research habits in unexpected ways.
After one year at UBC, I moved to Tampa. At Tampa, I teach a 3/3. Perhaps more interestingly, each of my classes meets for 2 hours apiece on Tuesdays and Thursdays (so, 6 hours in the classroom on both days). From my experience, this is really unusual. At most universities, MWF classes are 50 minutes long and T/Th classes are 70 minutes. At UT, MWF classes are 70 minutes per day and T/Th classes are 2 hours per day. I can't tell you how much more prep this requires. I also typically teach 2 new courses per semester, often in topics outside of my AOS (Ancient Philosophy, Etc.). Because 2 hours of philosophy with undergrad non-majors twice a week is pretty tough (it takes quite a bit to keep things interesting for two hours), I spend a lot of time prepping and grading -- anywhere from 5-6 hours a day on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Here, then, is my typical week now. I wake up at about 8am each weekday. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I spend between 5-6 hours a day on class prep and grading. I may get a couple of hours of research in during the afternoon, if I'm lucky. I then take the dog out for a run about 4pm (for my well-being and for him) and then spend the night hanging out with my wife. Tuesdays and Thursdays are six hours of teaching apiece (until 8pm), plus two hours of office hours -- so, no real research on those days. Fridays, then, are pretty much the only day of the week I get to do a substantial amount of research. So, on Fridays, I basically do research all day (from about 9am to 4pm), minus an hour at 10am for a freshman transition-to-college course I teach and 1 hour for an independent study. I also then coach a debate team on Friday afternoons, serve on two university committees which meet several times a semester, and have spent time organizing several campus events (which I will simply average to 2 hours per week). For work-life balance reasons, I still don't do research at night or on weekends.
So, then, my average work week looks like this: about 8 hours per day MWF and 12 hour days on T/Th (so, about 50 hours per week). This is not an exaggeration, and no, I do not count things like blogging (I tend to draft up these things after work, sometimes to the chagrin of my wife). It is a lot of work. I also really enjoy it. I've gotten really, really efficient at grading, so it doesn't drive me nuts. All things considered, I truly love my job. I love teaching, I love research, I love working with students (committee work? not so much!). The only thing I don't love about it is the "rat race" (viz. applying for jobs, worrying about my future, whether I'm publishing enough, or in the right places, etc.).
Anyway, I've had some people tell me I spend way too much time on teaching. The rather bizarre thing, though, is that all the time I spend teaching has made me a far more productive (and, I think, better) researcher than I ever was when I had more time on my hands. The reasons for this seem to me to be two-fold. First, when I was at UBC (and had a lot of time on my hands), I was incredibly inefficient. I would "overthink" everything, spend way too much time polishing sentences or paragraphs, and finally, get stuck on problems for days (or even weeks) on end. Now that I have so little time for research on my hands, I find myself forced to be efficient. I have to get stuff out of my head quickly or I'll never get anywhere -- and, if I run into a problem I'm having trouble solving, I immediately set it aside and move onto something else (e.g. another paper). In short, having far less research time seems to me to have dramatically improved my research habits. Secondly, I've been incredibly surprised by just how much teaching can contribute to generating good reseach ideas. When I was at UBC, I used to spend so much time reading the literature that, at some points, I felt like I had "lost the forest for the trees." Nowadays, most of my research ideas -- including the book I'm working on, and several published papers -- have come from just trying to put together good undergraduate lectures on course material. Basically, I've found that teaching forces me to cut to the heart of the problems/arguments, and actually get far clearer on things than I think I did when I had more time for research. Strange!
Anyway, this is partly why I thought it might be helpful for us to share our work patterns and experiences. My own experience has been that (A) what I might like (e.g. tons of free time to do research), and (B) what seems to be good for me as a researcher (e.g. teaching more, not less!), have been very different things.
What have other people's experiences been? What is your typical work week like?