FOO Blog Hop: a day (week) in the life

After reading everyones’ “day in the life”s, I was a little sad that I couldn’t share mine because I don’t have a really typical day. ¬†But then B&BS shared her days, and inspired me to share mine too! ¬†As a graduate student, every day is a little bit different for me, and that schedule changes every three months when a new quarter rolls around and I adopt a new teaching schedule. ¬†There is one rule I always must follow, though.

I must work on my thesis for at least 2 hours before heading to the barn on any given day (or have hours accrued from the previous night)

This one rule¬†makes sure I don’t go to the barn, get¬†all endorphinated and happy from my time there, and forget to do any work on my actual thesis. ¬†This is something I’ve discovered about myself in graduate school: I do fantastically with hard deadlines, day-to-day routines, and data collection. ¬†But leave me to my own devices with soft deadlines and I am a professional procrastinator.

So here’s what two different days in my week look like, so you can see how cushy yet totally punishing and crazy it is to be a graduate student.


sometime between 4:30 and 6:00 — Kitten wakes up. He plays with my hands and feet, scratches me, and generally makes a nuisance of himself while I try to go back to sleep.

IMG_7571Play with me!

7:15 — Alarm goes off. ¬†I snooze it once. ¬†Milo comes back into bed and snuggles with me while I sleep through the snooze.

7:25 — Snooze alarm again. ¬†Roll over and play with Milo some more, interwebz on the phone.

7:35 — Crawl out of bed. ¬†Immediately boil water, grind coffee, prepare pourover. ¬†First things first, people.

7:50 — Fresh coffee and emails. Delete almost everything from SmartPak, Dover, and Horze. ¬†I can’t buy anything new right now anyway. ¬†Cave and check the websites. ¬†Sulk about things I can’t buy. ¬†Delete lots of emails and read blogs.

8:30 — Pack backpack for my morning: a meeting and the office. ¬†Laptop, charger, remaining coffee in a mason jar. ¬†I don’t really do breakfast, but if I’m hungry I’ll make toast with vegemite and butter or nutella. ¬†More often than not vegemite.

8:35 — Can’t find my headphones. Desperately need headphones for biking.

8:38 — Find headphones. Cue podcast. ¬†Can’t find keys.

8:43 — Found keys!! Run out door.

8:45 — Bike bike bike bike bike to school.

8:58 — Park bike in front of building.

9:00 — Climb to the third floor. ¬†Refuse to take the elevators, even though I always do to my 4th floor office.

9:02 — ¬†Scamper into meeting right as boss is starting things. ¬†Grimace apologetically in excellent subordinate-monkey fashion. ¬†This is the weekly TA meeting that gets everyone up to speed on what’s coming up for the week (exams, changed lab activities, quizzes), and pitfalls to avoid during lab. ¬†Go over grading for the past week’s homework.

9:40-10:00 — Meeting ends and I either head home to work or to the office. ¬†More often to the office, these days. ¬†Once I get there, I can check emails, read blogs, etc. until 10. ¬†Then it’s to work.

10:00 — Time to work! ¬†Depending on what I’m up to, I’m either processing my data (turning it into a measure that can actually be analysed, making sure I have the right columns in my spreadsheet, error-checking my data, writing and rewriting queries), analysing my data (run all the models! open R! write scripts! regression for dayz!), or creating figures that explain my data. ¬†I have to do everything twice because inevitably when I check it I learn that I did it wrong, but at least I learned how to do it!

11:27 — I’m starting to hunger. This could be a problem for working. Get a big glass of water to stave off hunger until at least my two hours are complete.

12:00 — Yes! I can go home and eat and then go play with my pony! Bike home.

12:14 — Storm into the house, grab whatever food is available in the fridge, and sit on the couch. ¬†Milo typically meets me at the door and sits on my shoulder for this process, then tries to steal my lunch.

1:30 — Barn time!

1:52 — At the barn! ¬†Hooray! ¬†Murray is inside because he gets night turnout.


3:00 — Finally on. Don’t judge how long it takes me to groom and tack up.

3:45ish — Cool down, walk back into barn, prep Murray’s bucket.

4:20 — Yes, somehow I am not leaving the barn until 4:20. ¬†The barn takes up three hours of my time, generally regardless of what I’m doing.

4:46 — Home again. Cook dinner. ¬†Grade pre-lab and post-lab assignments for my students. Update grades.

6:00 — Dinner. I eat early like an old lady. ¬†Mostly because I get hungry early. ¬†If I have time, I’ll get creative with dinner. ¬†Often I’ll make something big so that I have leftovers for Wednesdays.

7:30 — Done with dinner, finish up any of the last few lab-things I have to do. ¬†Write blogs, do more thesis work, watch TV, clean the house.

8:30 — Chores around the house for reals. Make sure the kitchen is clean.

9:00 — Return to the couch to snuggle with Milo, read more blogs, write more things. ¬†Thesis related, or school related, or work related. ¬†Or whatever.

10:30 — Head to bed. Usually lights out by 11.


sometime between 4:30 and 6:00 — Kitten wakes up. He plays with my hands and feet, scratches me, and generally makes a nuisance of himself while I try to go back to sleep.


7:15 — Alarm goes off. ¬†I snooze it once. ¬†Milo comes back into bed and snuggles with me while I sleep through the snooze.

7:25 — Jump out of bed, much to Milo’s dismay. ¬†Put the kettle on again, grind coffee, and get dressed for school. ¬†This is hard, because it’s not breeches and a tee shirt and a belt. I have to wear real clothes,¬†respectable clothes. ¬†And I only have so many sweaters. ¬†And I don’t like to duplicate outfits because I feel like my students will notice. ¬†And I only have ugg boots for waterproof shoes, or little flats that don’t feel good walking on them all day.

7:40 — Coffee’s ready, toast is ready (with vegemite!), laptop on the table and I get to read one blog while I get ready to leave for the lab. ¬†Teaching necessitates the power of vegemite.

8:00 — Pack for school, pack a lunch, get ready to leave. ¬†Last minute makeup, but more often than not no facepaint.

8:15 — Where are my keys?!

8:17 — On the bike and headed to school! ¬†Back in January my eyelashes froze in the fog on one of these rides.

8:35 — Walk into my lab room. ¬†Make sure all the activities are ready to go, fill in the board, unlock the door, wait for students.

9:00 — Teach 24 undergraduates about the tree of life, phylogenetics, and systematics. ¬†Answer lots of questions. ¬†Be mean. ¬†Be funny. ¬†Be mean again.

This week we’re learning about plants!

12:00 — Free of the hellbeasts! ¬†Lunch with my bestie in the next lab room, where she teaches simulcast with me.

12:55 — Back to my room to let my second session of hellbeasts in.

1:10 — More undergrads! ¬†Phylogenetics, systematics, tree of life. ¬†Second session is always easier than the first, but my voice starts to hurt.

4:00 — Hellbeasts leave. ¬†Pack up lab room, clean board, make sure everything is ready to go for the next TA. ¬†Answer lingering student questions, check email one more time, head home.

4:40 — Home with my own little hellbeast. ¬†Fix some dinner, work on my thesis for a few hours. ¬†Do this¬†without the TV on, for TV = epic distractions.

7:00 — Fervently check texts for one from my DVM riding buddy who I am meeting at the barn late. ¬†Leave for the barn. ¬†Hope she is still meeting me.

7:40 — At the barn, and pony is somehow magically tacked up in ten minutes! This isn’t possible, did I move in super speed?

7:50 — Ride! ¬†Always dressage this late at night.

8:30ish — Usually done with my ride in 40 minutes on late nights. ¬†Since Murray already ate his bucket, I just blanket and get his pasture buddy out from her stall. ¬†I walk Murray and Pippa out to their pasture in the pitch black, or by moonlight, if I’m lucky.

9:00 — Home. ¬†Magical fastest barn trip ever. ¬†Feel super good about watching TV in bed.

If you’re wondering at the lack of showers in this schedule…. I don’t shower much. ¬†There! I said it! ¬†I’m not big on showers. ¬†I think they waste water and most days I don’t smell that bad anyway. ¬†Also, California is in a drought.

Also, I know it doesn’t seem like I work my thesis much. ¬†Part of this is because… I don’t. ¬†However, part of it is my work routine/philosophy. ¬†I could sit at a desk and “work” on my thesis all day. ¬†I’ve done that type of work before. ¬†Somehow, I don’t make more progress than when I take 2-3 hours a day and work really hard with no distractions. ¬†So instead of wasting my day at the desk, I work hard for 2-3 hours, and get to take the rest of my day. ¬†After that, any additional work I do is just icing on the cake.