Accounting for a day in the life.

I am beginning to see the questionable wisdom of committing to daily blog posts, but I suppose the thing that makes it questionably wise–namely, the fact that there aren’t enough hours in this lady’s day to Do All The Things–is precisely the reason I’m making an effort to make time for this kind of writing. I mean, Pepys was busy too, and he managed to write stuff down.

Right now, I’m making time for it on the Go bus to Toronto, en route to the 18th Century Group meeting at the University of Toronto. It was either on the Go bus to Toronto or in the Go bus from Toronto, and while blogging on the way back might have allowed me to write about the evening’s talk, I know that if I find the talk inspiring enough to write about, then I’m going to want to use that time to make Notes Toward Future Work not necessarily fit for public consumption.

This experiment of daily posting was inspired by my suspicion (conviction?) that I was wasting a lot of time in habitual online cruising, but today, trying to carve out time for it made me aware of how well accounted-for much of my time is, even online. Today I spent the morning with R, including breastfeeding and breakfast and a morning bath, before seeing her off to daycare; shared the weekend’s photos and videos with far-away relatives; listened to Les Miserables (the novel, not the musical, though one is just as likely as the other) while walking Daisy; answered student emails; did a final edit of my book’s index (the last piece of production!); identified and catalogued some articles for research-in-progress; began a paper proposal for the next CSECS; had an idea about current research project, and fretted about how it changes the whole project; caught up on a conversation at The Long Eighteenth about the “emotional labor” of academic work (see also Kandice Chuh’s piece on academic mentoring); answered more student emails; answered administrative emails; worked on the syllabus for one of the summer’s graduate seminars, which involved skimming primary and secondary texts I’d tentatively included, deleting some, adding some new ones, tentatively, and researching editions for quality/comprehensiveness/cost-effectiveness; made dinner for R, and fed it to her, and breastfed her; and got to Toronto for this talk, which, by the way, I’ve now attended, and discussed, and am headed home from on the return bus (it was very interesting, but not, now, the subject of this post). I reshared some things of interest on Facebook on my bus commute to campus this morning, and retweeted some things of interest on Twitter on the bus home in the afternoon. I drank my morning coffee while sharing weekend photos and scarfed a sandwich while researching articles. I wrote this post and answered more student emails and made some notes about the evening’s talk while on this, and that other, bus.

Things I did not manage to make time for today include reading and evaluating applications to our graduate program; revising the paper I’m giving at a Gender Studies and Feminist Research symposium on Thursday; working on my external review of a SSHRC grant application; preparing Thursday’s lecture; marking student work; reading journal submissions; reading graduate student work; reading submissions for the Humanities Undergraduate Essay Prize; primary reading for current research; secondary reading for current research; dinner; or any time with D beyond handing over or or receiving the baby.

Things I still hope to do after arriving home near midnight include a cup of tea and reading some of the book on my nightstand.

It’s interesting to record the contents of the day like this, noting that today felt neither remarkably “productive” nor remarkably “unproductive.” I suppose I’d call it typical, except for that feeling of no feeling–normally, I get to the end of a day and feel overwhelmed by how busy or wasted it seems. Is this a benefit of Writing Things Down? Does time feel better accounted-for if one keeps a material account of it?

One thought on “Accounting for a day in the life.

  1. One of the goals of reflective writing is to capture activities and thoughts that would ordinarily be lost to memory. This is one way to identify patterns and preoccupations that are otherwise invisible to you in your daily comings and goings. In this way, you can begin to align the different bitty things you do so that they feel as if they are part of some synthetic whole. It’s not a bad idea, especially in the sleepless haze of early-stage parenting, to keep up a quick inventory of one’s activities for each week, and then scan over these at regular intervals. I learned a great deal about the affinities between my scholarship and my other university work through this kind of self-inventory. In other words, write it down, accumulate some of these retrospective views, and reread at a moment when you can think about what they have in common.

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