What does a professor do all day?

As I am sure, many of my non-faculty friends have no clue what I do all day.  The most visible aspect to my job is showing up in a classroom.  At my school, we teach on a 3/3 load, meaning we teach three classes every semester.  That translates into 9 hours per week.  If that is all outsiders see, they may think we have tons of free time.  So where does the rest of my time go?  Here's my personal breakdown:

On good semesters, I only have to prep for 2 classes (when two of the three courses I teach are the same).  If I have taught the classes before, prep time is very minimal, maybe an hour at most for each class.  Given that I'm pretty new to teaching and I do a bit more experimenting in my class, the time usually amounts to 2-4 hours a week of prepping.  Grading also takes a chunk of time usually somewhere around 2-4 hours a week, though it varies greatly.  On average, prep and grading combined runs about 8 hours a week.  So far, that's roughly 17 hours of a 40 hour work week.

What about the other half?  I personally attempt to allocate at least 1 full day a week to research, often Friday.  At more research intensive schools, that would not be enough, but it suffices for me here at EMU.  That brings the running total to 25 hours a week.  The remaining time is split pretty evenly between committee meetings (2 hours), meeting with students (1 hours), advising the department club (1 hours), investigating technology news (2 hours), answering emails (2 hours), and collaborating with other faculty (3 hours).  Throw in the occasional article review, textbook evaluation, blog post, student recommendation, grant proposal, and conference and my weeks become full.

Well, its full for the 8 months of our contract.  In the spring and summer semesters, my schedule varies considerably.  Two summers ago, I spent most of my time at home because of our new baby.  I did teach one class in the evenings, but that was about it.  Last summer, I spent the spring semester teaching two classes.  One of which was a new class, so I spent a good 40 hours a week just prepping, teaching, and grading.  In the summer semester, I worked half days for the most part, completing some research that I wanted to submit before the beginning of the fall semester.

Well, that's my life in a nutshell.  There are an endless supply of time sucking activities to do in academia.  I would like to become a bit more productive at my work, so as to free up time for new projects - developing a series of online classes, starting a business (or two), writing a textbook (or two), consulting, or even conducting more research projects.  Part of my focus this semester will be on improving my productivity in all areas and when possible eliminating time sucking activities that produce little value.


  1. I'm looking forward to joining your ranks one day. I know I sound like such a geek saying this, but: it all sounds so exciting!!

  2. It is! I love my job. I'm one of the few people who look forward to work everyday. Hope you get to enjoy soon too. When do you expect to defend?