Sunday, January 23, 2011

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - My Flexible Schedule

Being in academia, the pay is lousy and the hours are LONG.  Minimum of 7 years of education and a PhD required. Eighty hour work-weeks anyone?  For $40,000 per year? No overtime, no summer or holiday pay and no time off during the semester.  Plus you have to pay out of pocket for conferences, travel and sometimes your research or equipment - or you have to apply for and acquire a grant to cover these expenses, something that is not easy to do.  In this field you have to love what you do to do what you do or you don't stay - at least for the hours, responsibility and the pay!  

Fortunately, everyone who works at my not-so-new-now job with me loves what we are doing - both on an individual level and as a department.  We are willing to put in the long hours for not such great pay.  We're willing to shell out $3000 a year to go to a conference just so we can further our field of study. 

The thing ALL of us love about our jobs that we wouldn't trade for the world is our flexible schedules.

Currently I teach class in the evenings.  I am able to go in to my office about 1pm, leaving my mornings free to work on my dissertation, work out, run errands, and other things that pop up.  I usually get home about 8pm - in time for family worship and putting the kids to bed.   I have a colleague who's wife starts work at 930am and can drop their children off at school.  He comes in at 7am and then works until about 3pm, picks the kids up from school and heads home for the evening. 

That makes it sound like we have 'short' days.  Not really.  For a "half time" job I spend approximately 32 hours a week total between grading, course prep, class time, research work, and office hours.  My full-time colleagues spend about 80 hours a week.

We all bring work home and work after the children are in bed.  
We all work while the kids are playing or napping or while we're at a sporting event or lesson.
We all bring work home on the weekends.

The perk is that we get to make our schedule fit our lives rather than having to work around it. 

I know that if the children are sick and need to stay home, I can work from home until about 2pm and then John can knock off an hour early and come home and take care of them so I can go to work and still meet my face-to-face obligations.  I can also do this if I'm sick.

I know that if I have a big deadline coming up I can bring my work home and work from home, or the library or the coffee shop if I need to.

I know that if we aren't in the middle of a term, I can take a week off for a vacation as long as any necessary work gets done in a timely fashion. 

I love having a flexible schedule and that's one of the reasons I love my job so much. 

Sure there are other 'perks' as well - helping others learn something they thought was impossible is really neat too.  And having great colleagues is fun.  So is having each day be something new.

But the flexible schedule is certainly a perk and I love having that option in my life.

Truly, it's one of my favorite things. 

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Lea