Finally finished timetabling a two-day mini-conference for a course I coordinate, and put the sign-up sheets for its twenty-three parallel sessions online this afternoon. Within six or seven hours, the best part of five hundred students had signed onto them and most were full. A bit daunting. I hope none of the tutors or rooms are double-booked.

Meanwhile, alongside that I’ve been arranging the timetable for some international visitors who are coming for three days next week. The two timetables overlap, so keeping them separate in my head has been a challenge.

Those clichés about academia being the life of the mind are true, except that what takes over your life and your mind are spreadsheets.

12 March 2012 · Journal

I hoped in vain. Yesterday afternoon I learned that one of the rooms I’d thought was booked for me, and had heavily timetabled on both days, wasn’t. Cue a mad scramble to reshuffle rooms in the timetable and secure alternatives in cases where reshuffling wouldn’t cover it. Followed by an embarrassed email to all the staff and students to alert them to the changes.

And I only heard about it because I asked to cancel some of my surplus room bookings, so that other colleagues could potentially use them. If I hadn’t bothered, hundreds of students would have turned up to sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday to find the rooms occupied. And I would have been in that series of meetings with our international visitors, with no time to fix any of it.

That was the Friday afternoon to end all Friday afternoons.

Added by Rory on 17 March 2012.