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When he was just a professor, Dumbledore taught Transfiguration. As Headmaster what was he doing all day? In the 6th movie he was diligently looking for Horcruxes, but what about the other times?

When Fred and George pass the Maurader's Map to Harry they note that Dumbledore is pacing in his office. "He does that a lot" one of them says. Did Dumbledore just endless pace in his office as Headmaster, afraid to leave it for fear someone would know that he produced no work?

Sure, every year he had to go find a new DADA teacher, but most of those it seemed he did through correspondence. Horace Slughorn was the only one that seemed to resist. Dumbledore's 6th year may have been the only one where he earned his paycheck.

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    He played Angry Birds I thought...don't have my books for the quote though... – NominSim Jun 1 '12 at 21:13
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    "'Your bird — I couldn’t do anything — he just caught fire —'To Harry’s astonishment, Dumbledore smiled.'About time, too,' he said. 'He’s been looking dreadful for days; I’ve been telling him to get a move on.'" Chamber of Secrets...I think Fawkes is a kamikaze angry bird. – NominSim Jun 1 '12 at 21:20
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    Pacing is not an impediment to dictating, even in this world, and any administrative job involves a lot of paperwork. And in one where voice controlled quills are possible,... well, I dictate into my digital recorder all the time, when I walk -- I think better on my feet. – K-H-W Jun 1 '12 at 23:54
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    I'm pretty sure he does the same things most (fictional) high school principals do all day, which is to "run things." Ahem. – MPelletier Jun 2 '12 at 14:30
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    Eating confectionery and thinking of a new password into his office. Though not all day, as pointed out by the answers. – Möoz Apr 16 '14 at 2:38
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Apart from being Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore was also the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, as well as the Founder and Leader of the Order of the Phoenix.

Duties within the Ministry of Magic

The Wizengamot is the High Court of Great Britain and also the Parliament of the Ministry of Magic through which Law and various Decrees are passed. It has fifty members, is located within the Ministry of Magic in London, and it is one of the most important Ministry position in the country. This position is most likely comparable to that of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of a Country, one of the most significant appointments only bestowed upon a Wizard who must be extremely worthy of it.

The International Confederation of Wizards is the body which constitutes of Wizarding Delegations (Ministry Seats) from all over the World, and Albus Dumbledore was the Supreme Mugwump. He was responsible for magical co-operation and correspondence between the Ministries of Magic of all the countries in the World. This body is also the key Confederation which enforces and regulates the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy throughout the World. This position is likely comparable to the muggle-World position of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Activities with the Order of the Phoenix

The Order of the Phoenix is the only known secret society formed to directly oppose Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. During the First Wizarding War, The Order along with Aurors from the Ministry were responsible for secretive, covert operations and assaults towards the Dark Rebellion. (Dumbledore was also responsible for the invention of the Speaking Patronuses). After the rebirth of Voldemort, the Order was alone responsible in intelligence, counter-intelligence and espionage activities within both the Ministry of Magic as well as the Death Eaters. The Order alone planned and initiated Protection of the Prophecy of The Dark Lord/Harry Potter. The Order also was solely responsible for the Protection of Harry Potter throughout the years. At the heart of the Order was Albus Dumbledore, who planned every aspect of the movement and was the leader of all the members.

Activities beyond the Ministry of Magic and the Order of the Phoenix

Infiltration of Voldemort and the Death Eaters

Albus Dumbledore was along with Severus Snape, the only two people who were actively involved in the counter-intelligence operation against Voldemort. Prior to and even after his death, Dumbledore and Snape were the only two people who were fully aware of their operations and none the Order members, nor the Ministry, nor the Death Eaters or Voldemort knew about it. Not even Harry Potter knew about Dumbledore and Snape's exact plans. The two of them spent a huge amount of time planning and conspiring against Voldemort, using Snape as a double-agent to send misleading information to Voldemort, and also finding out about Voldemort's plans. Dumbledore also had planned with Snape about information to pass on to Harry Potter, as well as the protection and assistance of Harry Potter during and beyond his death.

Search for Horcruxes

Albus Dumbledore travelled far and wide in a attempt to research, discover and gather information on Voldemort's past, in order to understand Voldemort's darkest secrets. These trips took him from places like Azkaban, where he retrieved memories from Morfin Gaunt, to Hepzibah Smith's old house-elf Hokey, as well as older Ministry officials like Bob Ogden. Dumbledore also searched for various possible hiding locations for Voldemort's Horcruxes, a result of which he discovered the cave underneath the sea cliff which Voldemort had first visited as a child. Dumbledore also found and destroyed the Horcrux Ring of Gaunt which was hidden in Gaunt's residence.

As Headmaster of Hogwarts, Extended Activities

Albus Dumbledore was amongst one of the only Wizards who ever sought and maintained, on many occasions, relationships with the Centaurs and Mer-people around the Hogwarts Castle. He seems to be the only Wizard besides Hagrid, who has at one time been friends and respected by the Centaurs, and Dumbledore was the only known person to have been in communication with the Mer-people.

Personal life

It must also be noted that Albus Dumbledore provides a lot of commentary and notes in the book The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

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Dumbledore held other positions in addition to being Headmaster of Hogwarts, which no doubt occupied some of his time. It's also mentioned several times in the books that Cornelius Fudge regularly contacted him for advice during his time as Minister.

All of the knowledge and theories he shared with Harry in Half-Blood Prince had to come from somewhere; there'd be a lot of time in the years before that tracking down the memories he shared in the Pensieve, researching Voldemort's past, forming ideas, etc.

And, let's not forget, he was in charge of running a school. There was no doubt plenty of boring administrative work to be done.

  • administrative duties are incredibly time consuming! – zipquincy Oct 14 '16 at 20:49
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I'm sure he did what headmasters do, namely discipline, planning, managing the staff, liaising with the governors, etc. etc.

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    Presumably the downvoters think that magical schools just run themselves. I'm sure if you asked J K Rowling what he was doing, this is the answer she would give. – Christi Jun 2 '12 at 11:28
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Just to add something that got missed by all the other answers - Dumbledore also does a lot of research. Here what the Chocolate Frog card says about him (emphasize mine):

  ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

  CURRENTLY HEADMASTER OF HOGWARTS.

Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling.

Another achievement of him is the creation of the Deluminator - a unique magical object that was his invention.

All these things consume a lot of time (as anyone involved in scientific research knows).

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