A Day in the Life

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I love a good schedule... something about seeing how people plan out their days is so interesting to me (perhaps I need more exciting things to do with my life)! When I first started writing this post, I thought I’d share a ‘typical’ day in our lives, but then I realized there is no typical day in the life. There are late meetings, or early doctor’s appointments, or impromptu dinners with friends, or days when Ellie decides to sleep in until 10am (or stay up until 10pm). So... rather than sharing a typical day, I’ll share what our schedule looked like on a random Monday in October when I decided to keep track of what I was doing. My plan is to do this about once per month.


a random Monday in October

5:30am: Alarm goes off. Mike and I both get up. We’re coming off of a weekend at the beach where our schedule was way off what it normally is so this early wake up call is a little rough. I get ready for the gym, Mike preps for his latest house project (finishing up a built-in window bench/bookshelves).

5:55am: I leave for the gym, while Mike works on the bookshelves.

6:20am: Get to the gym. Do some lifting. I’d been having some hip pain the week before but I feel good this morning. Since we were away this weekend I didn’t lift on Saturday and I think the mini break did me some good. I do back squats, strict presses, and power cleans. Working on building my strength back up after a ~3 year hiatus from lifting.

7:00am: Back at home Ellie wakes up (which is an hour earlier than usual, ugh). Mike had planned to get our lunches ready but didn’t get to it given the early wake up... perhaps she’ll sleep in tomorrow, ha!  

7:20am: I finish my workout and head back home.

7:45am: Get home from the gym and Ellie runs to greet me at the door. Given her enthusiasm, she’s clearly been up for awhile. Mike makes breakfast while the three of us talk. I make my lunch to bring with me to campus (quesadillas). We eat our usual breakfast: eggs, steamed broccoli (yes, we eat broccoli for breakfast), sweet potatoes, plus some leftovers from our beach trip this past weekend (sausage & bacon).

8:50am: No early meetings today so my departure time for campus is dependent on Mike and Ellie’s schedule. Mike decides to head to story time at the library, which means we need to leave the house by 9:30. I quickly pick out some clothes, hop in the shower, and get my stuff packed. Mike gets Ellie ready to go and packs their bag with snacks and a travel potty (we went through potty training this past summer).

9:30am: Magically, we’re all ready to go by 9:30. Ellie wants fruit snacks (her new favorite thing). We request that she wait until after I get dropped off at the ‘choo choo’ to open them. When we arrive at the train station she exclaims, “fruit snacks!” (instead of “bye mama!”).

9:45am: Mike and Ellie drop me off at the train and then they head to story time. I open up email on my phone to see if I can do any quick responses during my train ride. Thankfully there’s nothing major, so I just do some general email cleaning (organizing messages, deleting, etc.) and then read a book (for fun) on my phone.

10:10am: Get to campus/get settled.

10:20am: I haven’t been great about planning my week beforehand so that’s first up on the agenda for the day. Takes me about an hour to finish planning for the week. Usually I aim for 30 minutes, but today I added in some quick tasks that came up as I was planning just to get them out of the way, which added a little more time than usual (and coming off of a weekend away usually means it takes a little longer to get up and running).

11:30am: I’m applying for a grant that’s due in mid-November, so that’s my first priority today. I spend an hour writing/editing.

12:30pm: I take a short break to get my lunch together and rest my brain before I shift to another project.

12:40pm: I eat lunch while I work on a paper that I’m trying to get under review before my 3rd year review materials are due in February. I just finished analyses, so I spend my time writing them up.

2:00pm: Time for meeting #1 of the week. I’m thankful it was scheduled for my afternoon slump time, I’m definitely feeling it today. It feels good to be away from my desk, in a room with sunshine (my office doesn’t have windows), and interacting with other people (instead of staring at my computer screen).

3:00pm: Meeting done, on to some administrative tasks. I start drafting an email to a student that is going to take some thought. I blocked out 30 minutes for it on my calendar but it ends up taking longer than expected (there’s something about emails that just really slows me down). I was only able to finish part of it, so I send off what I have and tell the student I’ll get back to them later in the day or tomorrow with the rest.

3:50pm: A colleague stops by my office to share some info (student feedback) about the class that I’m the lead instructor for, so we chat for a few minutes.

3:55pm: I’m on a search committee and I wanted to spend a little bit of time planning out how to tackle reviewing applications, as well as come up with any questions I have about the process for those who are leading the search. I spend a few minutes just generally outlining/reviewing the process, identifying questions, and blocking off time on my calendar so I make sure I get through applications before our next meeting in November.

4:00pm: Office hours start. I open my door so students know I’m here. I continue working on search committee preparations.

4:10pm: Search committee work done. Since my door is open/distractions are abound, I’ve scheduled “easy”/non-time sensitive work for this time, mainly catching up on emails that I’ve been meaning to send off (e.g., scheduling a check in with a senior colleague, setting up time to discuss a potential resource for faculty/staff, and following up on search results from a librarian on a systematic review).

4:15pm: A student stops by with a quick question, so emailing goes on hold while I help them out.

4:20pm: Back to emailing...

4:30pm: Another student stops by with questions about course scheduling. We discuss options.

4:45pm: Back to emailing...

5:00pm: Office hours end. I quickly pack up so I can try and make the next train. I text Mike so he knows when to pick me up.

5:10pm: Train ride. During the meeting today I offered to create a tracking spreadsheet for some tenure related work we’re doing at the school. Since this wasn’t something that was initially on my schedule, I decide to use the train ride home to work on it, on my phone. Not ideal, but it at least helps me get the structure down so I can edit it tomorrow on the computer.

5:30pm: Mike and Ellie pick me up at the train station. Ellie seems a bit grumpy, or at least not in a talkative mood, which I totally get. It gives Mike and I a bit more time for adult conversations (which seem to be getting fewer and farther between).

5:45pm: Back home and get settled. Ellie wants to go for a walk to see Halloween decorations so Mike gets her ready while I put my stuff away.

6:00pm: We all head out for a park visit/puddle jumping/Halloween decoration walk. Mike and I debrief on the day.

6:40pm: Get home from our walk. Mike starts on dinner (tacos tonight... a staple in our house). I try to get Ellie to clean up the disaster zone that is the kitchen floor, which doesn’t work too well... instead she wants to help Mike with tacos. We compromise... she can help with tacos after she picks a few things off the ground (which means she picks up 2 things and gets distracted while I clean up the rest). After she helps with tacos, I pull out her Halloween costume that I’m working on (a pink spider). She helps me with that and says, “mama you’re doing such a good job!” Mike finishes up dinner. Ellie tries on the costume, which gets her really excited to wear it later in the week... thank goodness because the day before she said she didn’t want to be a spider anymore.

7:15pm: Dinner time. Ellie is a bundle of energy, sitting in her chair for maybe 10 seconds at a time to take a bite of food and then running off to “play” and “get her jumpies” out (a term we coined after she was fidgeting so much in her chair that it almost fell over, so we said if she needed to move she should get out of the chair to “get her jumpies out”)… gives us maybe 30 seconds of uninterrupted conversation!

8:00pm: We start the bedtime routine. Ellie is feeling mischievous tonight and dumps a bowl of water onto herself, while smiling. We then ask her to clean up some puzzles, which she proceeds to dump onto the ground, also while smiling. I tell her we’re not going to read books before bed if she doesn’t help clean them up (I feel bad threatening with books, but right now it works) and she loses it, but does help put the puzzle back (while bawling her eyes out). We read 2 books, then brush her teeth. Mike holds her for a little bit and then hands her off to me. We rock and then I rub her back. She tells me to sleep tight.

9:00pm: Ugh, I’d really love to get out of her room before 9pm, especially if I’m getting up early. There’s laundry on our bed, which means we can’t get it in, so I fold it and put away everything that goes in our room, then pile up Ellie’s stuff to bring in tomorrow.

9:15pm: I have some dessert (a brownie and peanut butter). I wanted to work on our monthly budget since it’s getting towards the end of the month. I’m not going to the gym tomorrow so I decide to work on the budget before bed. It takes longer than I thought (of course) and I’m not in bed until 10:20ish, ugh.

10:20pm: Bed time. This is a huge improvement from the summer where it was anywhere from 12:00am to 1:30am! I’d still prefer to be in bed earlier… but that means less evening time after Ellie goes to sleep… always a conundrum. I set the alarm for 5:55 (7.5 hours) and contemplate reading but don’t have it in me. Mike reads and I go to sleep.


Whew! If you made it all the way through that, I’m impressed! I’d say this day was on the lighter side, and a little less structured (at least in the morning) as far our “typical” schedule goes. Next up on the blog… scheduling basics.