22 February 2011

Logging Work

Last week, I wrote with dismay that Kean University is requiring professors to keep time sheets proving that they work at least 35 hours a week.

Out of curiosity about how many hours I actually spend working, I started keeping track of my own time. To my own surprise, I spent 41 hours and 45 minutes working last week. Working, that is, at tasks related to my academic position -- so not including child care, household responsibilities, reading the paper, checking Facebook, or writing this blog.

Why surprise? Because The Offspring came down with a virus at school on Thursday, and I had to pick him up in the middle of the day, thus losing half that day and the entire day on Friday to work. I also spent several hours in the car on Saturday driving The Offspring to The Grandparents, where he's spending his winter vacation, so again no job-related tasks.

I'm going to keep this log for at least another week. I'm now quite curious about how much time I actually spend working during a "normal" week.

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A log is a large piece of wood -- a material used extensively through much of human history for fuel and construction material.

The Oxford English Dictionary records that in the sixteenth century, the word "log" began to be used in a more specific sense to mean a piece of wood attached to a line, thrown by sailors into the water, and allowed to drift behind a ship, with the line unwinding as the ship moved forward. After two hours or so, the "log" would be pulled back to the ship, and the length of the line that had unwound in that time measured, to find out how fast the ship was traveling.

The distances would, each time, be entered into a "log-book." And in the early nineteenth century, we get "log" as a verb meaning to enter information into a log-book.

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I have a feeling I'm not going to be entirely thrilled about how many hours I discover, in the next week or two, I spend "at work" -- at my office or at home, at night after The Offspring goes to bed, on weekends while he's reading a book or out with The Dad.