Ever since working at a consulting company, I’ve been accustomed to keeping track of my time at work. It was at the same company that I spent days upon end doing calculations in Excel, making me an expert in the world of COUNTIFs, SUMPRODUCTs and named ranges. It was only a matter of time before I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my time at school and work, which I have done for the past few years.
While it takes a bit of upkeep, it’s great for looking back at what I actually did last year. It’s how I know that I spent about 1800 hours at work last year. Of which I spent 48 hours having coffee in our break room. (I would have guessed more.)
Here is my look back my first full year as PhD student. Here’s what an ‘average’ work week looked like (42 hours, including lunch and breaks), divided up according to how much time I spent on different projects throughout the year. (Including links to the posts I wrote throughout the year.)
My alarm goes off at 6 a.m. Microwaved oatmeal for breakfast while I get dressed.
7 a.m. On the bus to Norrköping. Last winter and spring, I was a tutor in the bachelor program in Environmental Science. All my teaching was in Norrköping, an hour away by bus. I caught the bus on campus at 6:55 and spent the hour reading student papers. Once in Norrköping, I would meet each of my tutor groups for two hours each. (5 hours total)
12 p.m. Lunch.
1 p.m. Small stuff. I had few small projects throughout the year, such as trying to re-write my master’s thesis into a journal article (which I gave up on). Sometimes I would just take the bus back to Linköping and relax. (1 hour)
2 p.m. Preparing for seminars. I attend two of our weekly seminars, both of which take place on Tuesdays, so it wouldn’t be strange for me to spend a couple hours reading on Monday afternoon. (2 hours)
4 p.m. Time to go home. (If it’s December or January, the sun set an hour ago!)
A later start today.
8:30 a.m. Time to do some reading to prepare for Wednesday’s course seminar. (1 hour)
9:30 a.m. Fika (the Swedish word for coffee break). I’m a pretty regular attendee at the morning fika these days, but I missed a lot in the spring when I was teaching in Norrköping.
10 a.m. The weekly seminar called Technology, Everyday Life and Society. We usually discuss a draft paper that one of our colleagues is working on. (2 hours).
12 p.m. Lunch. (1 hour)
1 p.m. An afternoon spent organizing the STS Summer School that we held in August: handling applications, payment, answering questions, preparing the course handbook, etc.
3 p.m. The weekly info meeting for our unit. (30 minutes)
3:30 p.m. More work on the summer school. (4 hours total)
5:30 p.m. Done for the day.
Lazy start today. Sometimes I would get up early and do laundry. I might do course reading at the same time. I might just read the newspaper.
9:30 a.m. Bike to work in time for the morning fika, because one of my colleagues talks about their research each Wednesday. It’s a chance to learn more about research going on in the other seminar groups. (30 minutes)
10 a.m. Working on my thesis. I might be reading articles about smart cities, or meeting with my supervisor to get his comments on something that I am writing. (1.5 hours)
11:30 a.m. Meetings. This year I took over a chairperson of the department’s PhD council, which discusses issues relevant to PhD students. We have our monthly meetings at lunch and being the chairperson involves a bit of preparation. I am also part of our unit’s advisory board, which meets three times per term. (2 hours)
1:30 p.m. Course work. Maybe a course seminar for An introduction to science and technology studies, or more reading. (3 hours)
4:30 p.m. Done as much reading as I will do today. I bike home and go for a run.
8 a.m. At work early to work on my thesis. I have been better about getting to work early this fall, especially while I have been working on a literature review. Or maybe I was on the train to Stockholm or Malmö to interview someone at the municipality. (4 hours, including a half hour break for fika)
12 p.m. Lunch
1 p.m. Another course seminar or time spent reading for our summer school. Or maybe a study visit to a nuclear waste storage repository. (2.5 hours)
3:30 p.m. Answer emails and clearing up some loose ends. (1 hour)
4:30 p.m. All my emails answered—I’m free!
An easy start to the day. It is Friday, after all.
9 a.m. More to do with teaching. Writing feedback about their participation in seminars, or grading their term papers. I also did a lecture for the master’s students this fall, so I could be putting together some lecture slides. (1.5 hours)
10:30 a.m. I switch from teacher to student and attend a course seminar. (1,5 hours)
12 p.m. Lunch.
1 p.m. Administration. Booking travel for a conference, filling out expense reports, or reporting my hours to the department administration. Good thing I have this spreadsheet! (1 hour)
2 p.m. More reading to do for my courses. I spent an hour reading at work, then bike home and read there for a couple hours. (3 hours total)
5 p.m. It’s the weekend!
And that’s my week (and my year). 2015 looks a bit different so far: not as many courses, less teaching and administration. More focus on my thesis, including doing interviews. More on that in a month or two.
If you prefer numbers, here is some of the same information in statistics:
- Taking courses: 474 hours, 26%
- Teaching (including preparation and grading): 267 hours, 15%
- Other work on my thesis: 201 hours, 11%
- Preparing for and attending seminars: 158 hours, 9%
- Lunch: 161 hours, 9%
- Conferences, including travel: 46 hours, 3%