My Day series: my patchwork calendar

I was contacted some days ago by the University media officer Tiina Palomäki, who asked me to write a piece for the My Day series. My Day was launched this year in occasion of the 375th anniversary of University of Helsinki. It collects stories from various members of the academic community and tells about their day in their own words.

My Day is published in the university intranet, so it is accessible only to the university staff. However, I was allowed to publish my piece also here, so you can read about my busy days.


Work and family: my patchwork calendar

The beeps of the cell phone remind doctoral student Paola Elefantea of a weekly meeting and fixing a "neuvola" appointment for her daughter.

The day starts very early for me, and at 6 am the alarm clock is ringing. My husband Fabrizio and I sneak downstairs like ninjas in the hope of having a quiet breakfast, but one creak of the wooden stairs gives us away, and Arja – our two-year-old daughter – joins the party. At 7 am, I kiss them goodbye and drive the long road from North Espoo to the Kumpula Kampus.

When I get to my office in the still-quiet campus, I glance at day’s schedule: the usual colorful patchwork of appointments stares back at me. Let’s start then! My secret is to make good use of every bit of time.

The first couple of hours are research work. I am a member of the inverse problems group, an applied mathematics research team. My task is to investigate new algorithms to process X-ray images out of few measurement data. In practice, this results in programming and reading papers while sipping way too much coffee.

The first notification pops up on my desktop: time to meet Hanna to plan the next meeting of the Kumpula Women Network.

Paola Elefante_1305-15_photo HY_Linda Tammisto

Married to my smartphone

My entire day is dictated by my calendar notifications, popping up on my computer and smartphone screens. The meeting with Hanna was quicker than I thought, but I brought the paper I was reading. “Beep”. Gosh, I have to call child health clinic “neuvola” to fix an appointment for Arja.

At lunchtime, I meet my colleagues at Chemicum and, as usual, we eat lunch, talk and joke. There’s a good atmosphere in our group. After lunch, I take some time to reply to emails, check some small tasks from my to-do list and write some sweet text messages to my husband.

Another “beep” warns me it’s time to head towards the industrial mathematics lab for our weekly meeting. The team has been organizing an important conference for May 2015 in Helsinki, AIP. Deadlines are close, and there is a lot to plan. Right after that, comes our monthly research meeting. We update our advisors, Matti and Samuli, about our progress and difficulties, and plan ahead.

Workday ends early, but work does not

At 3.30 pm, I sneak out and drive back home to pick Arja up from daycare. I turn on the radio to listen to some classical music and calm down from the hectic but productive day. Arja welcomes me with a hug and too much energy. She’s been waiting all day to play with mummy. We go back home, I check the week menu I planned beforehand and start cooking dinner.

At 6 pm, Fabrizio gets home and we can all enjoy our meal together. We chat about our workday while Arja tries to join the conversation. After dinner, we play with her for a couple of hours and then put her to bed. Tonight it’s Fabrizio’s turn, so I can lie down and read a little. After a while, he joins me downstairs. We look at each other with a tired smile: today it’s been a hell of a run for both of us. We lie down on the sofa and watch some of our favorite TV series. Come on! Four days more and the weekend will be here already.


Photo: Linda Tammisto

Editor: Tiina Palomäki


If you got curious, read more My Day articles at:

Renovation means cold coffee | A giant pressure cooker and workplace pranks | The line forms before seven | Yes to putting some humour into lectures | Cell clusters flashing in my eyes | Summer school in mid-winter | Changing shirts

Paola Elefante

Digital Scaling Project Manager at Plan International. Proud mother & wife. Shameless nerd&geek. Feminist. Undercover gourmet.

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