I am currently on research leave (Outside Studies Program), so my daily routine is a little different to my normal schedule when I am on full teaching and administration duties. I’ve returned a few weeks ago from a intensive period of research in the Sackler Library in Oxford, a key collection of resources for my field, and am in the writing phase of the project. I start the day with a good breakfast and strong coffee – I know I am at my best and most productive in the mornings while my mind is clear and fresh and I tend to leave the more mechanical items for the afternoon.
The start time of my work day depends on whether I am dropping off or picking up my 1 year old daughter from childcare, the glorious Sydney peak hour traffic and where I am based for the day. While on OSP I am on campus 2-3 days for student supervision, short meetings with collaborators or access to the MQ library or my personal resources – if I am based at uni for the day and don’t have drop off duties, I will be in early at 7am otherwise a little later by 10am. I drive into uni from the Inner West and pass the time listening to music (Queen is a definite favourite!). I find the commute frustrating and just want to get in to start on my list of jobs. However, once or twice a fortnight, I thoroughly enjoy sharing the ride with a friend and colleague of mine, Lea, who lives nearby. We have a great time chatting and generally catching up on each other’s lives, which often we don’t do once on campus with our individual schedules and working hours.
My (research centered) work day is broken up into segments and often in to 2 hour blocks of time. The morning is usually devoted to “reading, writing and thinking time” as well as consolidating/editing any recently written work and detailed note taking. After lunch is devoted to the more mechanical tasks like actioning any items that have come through via email, planning/preparing for meetings and/or general data management for the research project.
Taking breaks? I am terrible at this. Once I get on a roll and develop a bit of momentum I can work for long stretches without even getting up and (if I remember to eat) I will be mostly sitting at my desk.. I am really trying to change this bad habit and take more breaks on the hour to stretch the legs, go outside for some fresh air – I think this would really help my productivity in general, but especially in the afternoons.
I try to leave uni between 4-4.30pm to avoid some traffic and, most importantly, be home to spend time with my family and be part of my daughter’s bed time-routine. The “work” hat comes off and I switch to “mum”, sometimes easily and other times not so seamlessly as I find switching off from the day quite a challenge. I usually check my emails over night and respond on my phone and sometimes continue working after dinner, especially if I have strong momentum on a piece or I am working towards a writing deadline (my own or a publishers…). Mostly though the evenings are for being at home with my family and the opportunity for some downtime (this often involves watching Netflix), which then gives me some perspective on my writing or the direction of the research project as a whole.