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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Commuting Academic

I work in one place and have my family in another--a five-hour commute. This has posed special problems in my work habits, since I lose 10 hours the weeks I drive back home, have my work materials scattered between apartment, office, house, and car, and have conflicting demands on my attention. I'm surprised I am able to get anything done at all, but I think I have managed to develop some efficiencies out of the very difficulties that beset me. When I have to stay weekends at my job, I get a lot done. I plan the week efficiently so I don't have to bring a lot of work home when I am away from the office. I use the five-hour drive to come up with new ideas. I am less neurotic about having to have every book I need at any one time. If there's a book I need that's 300 miles away, I just work around the missing material until I have a chance to get it.

In short, a less than ideal situation does not prevent above average scholarly productivity.

2 comments:

matt said...

Jonathan, I commute 3 hours each Friday, and I often download books in MP3 format and listen as I drive. You can find lots of stuff for free if it's in the public domain on this awesome website called librivox.org

I've listened to _The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ (as a person who teaches American Lit.) about 5 times now over the course of the last 5-6 semesters.

Clarissa said...

As I'm preparing to become a commuting academic yet again, I can say that I know extremely well how to deal with situations where the resources I need are far away.

What is more difficult is dealing with this paralyzing feeling of loneliness and abandonment that come with just sitting there alone without having an immediate access to your partner with whom you could share everything you are doing.