Flexibility

Okay, let me go on record saying that one of the aspects of my job I love is the flexibility of my schedule and time. Yes, there are some days when I will spend four or more hours in a classroom plus two or more hours in a meeting (don’t ask me about Monday’s big meeting). Yet I can also deal with days such as today when eldest was feeling unwell and couldn’t go into school.

No problem. I don’t teach today and our department supports a policy of attempting to give each professor a “writing day” where they can work from home, if necessary, or just not open their door to the corridor. Tuesday’s that day for me this term (I’m not teaching Thursdays, either, this term, though meetings tend to fill up chunks of my Thursdays while I guard my Tuesdays jealously — last term I taught five days a week and was fairly burned out by the end of term).

Anyway, eldest recuperated nicely from her upset stomach and looks good to go back to school tomorrow. She was recovered enough by the afternoon to run errands with me (dropping Mike off at work, filling the car up with gas, picking up groceries, stowing them away, picking up youngest from school, going to the hairdressers, going to Tim’s and to the toy store). And I didn’t get quite as much writing done as I wanted (I mostly reread my article in-progress, penciling in changes and restructuring) but at least I could do all of this with a clear conscience.

I’m aware of my good fortune. In virtually any other line of work I’d have to take a sick day or a personal day to make this work but academe and my department make it almost easy to be a parent/worker.

5 Responses to “Flexibility”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Wish I had that joy in my job. Wish I could even take one of my 100+ sick or annual days I have accured.

    Will talk with you Thurs. Look for an e-mail with suggestions.

  2. ancarett Says:

    I would hope that the newest staff member and the excellent student workers will finally enable you to take some more of those days. And you’re definitely coming with me in March!

    Will look forward to our Thursday chat!

  3. Klytaimnestra Says:

    I found you on academics_anon, noted your institution’s desire to have all your publications listed in English AND French, visited your website, and came to the tentative conclusion that you were a professor of History working in Canada, possibly Eastern Canada (because of the emphasis on French), who also writes fanfic?

    I am a professor of Classics, working in Western Canada, writing fanfic (off and on), and also a married mother of two. It’s the “writing fanfic while academic” overlap that catches my eye - I’m so pleased to meet another one! Just posting now to say hi.

    And also to say, I also appreciate the flexible schedule, but I still find the workload harsh enough that I am going to go part-time next year. Perhaps when the kids are older I’ll come back up to full time.

  4. ancarett Says:

    Klytaimnestra, it’s good you came by. It’s fairly easy to figure out my identity with just a bit of searching — you’re certainly on the right track!

    I’m all for the idea that professors should have outside, creative lives, even before tenure. It irks me that so many institutions have a culture where you have to give it all up, twice over — family life and creativity — in order to meet the expectations that “you’re giving your all.” I’m a better professor for my family and my outside interests. Hopefully I’m a better writer for what I do, as well.

    Good luck with the part-time schedule. Financially, I could never justify it and always piled on more work (particularly consulting and overloads in the early years) while I flailed about. My health paid the price in those years, though, so I’m happy that I no longer have to juggle all those extra commitments on top of my regular load. It’s good to do good by my job and to have a fulfilling life at the same time.

    Wishing you the same!

  5. Arizona Says:

    I just read that large corporations are beginning to the see the light regarding workplace flexibility. True, that in almost any corporation you would have had to take a “personal day” or a “vacation day” to take care of an ill family member. I read an article in BusinessWeek about Best Buy and a program called Results-Only Work Environment: ROWE. Apparently the concept was started by two former Best Buy employees that have now created their own company = CultureRx. ROWE allows employees to do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as the work gets done. So, if you can get your job done and stay home with a family member, then do it! All without taking a silly “personal day”.

    I hope we all find this amazing balance!