Sunday, August 23, 2009

Protecting Your Time / Setting Boundaries

It's hard to get a grip on time.

At a recent meeting, someone brought up the perennial problem of Other People.

You know.

The people who say, "You're not working, so can you do this for me?"

Or who decide that now would be a really good time to come and stay with you. For a week.

Or who find out that you quit you job to finish your dissertation, and say, "You're so lucky not to be doing anything!"

Or who keep asking you, "Did you finish that paper yet?"

Or even worse.... "You're still working on that?"

There can be a lot of shame and guilt wrapped up in writing a dissertation, which is compounded by people who just have no idea of what you're going through.

So how do you protect your time so that you have the time and space you need to get this thing finished?

This was the topic of a recent meeting.

"The dissertation's showing me that a lot of my relationships are actually lopsided," one dissertator in the group said. "I finally had to say, please don't call me before 5:00 p.m. Or tell them, 'it's best for me to talk to you at 7:00 p.m. And then don't pick up the phone if it does ring."

"I tell people not to call me when I am writing unless it is an emergency. When they did call, I let it go to voicemail, and then called them back after 5:00. I put it on me. I said, 'It's important to me to talk to you, but I'm not answering the phone until after 5:00.'"

"What we're doing, it's not like a 9 to 5 job like everyone else has. It's like you're self-employed. So you have to set the boundaries. I'll tell people ahead of time, I'm going to the library, so I can't talk. Or I use my weekends to write my dissertation, so I can't go to movies on weekends."

"It's not my friends that are the's my family! You just have to remind yourself, don't buy into the shame and guilt. Whenever people ask you to do things, ask yourself, what can you actually control? What can you afford to do right now?"

"You have to model for other people how to behave towards a dissertator. People always ask if you're done because they don't know what else to ask. Just tell them what you need right now, even if its space or not to talk about the dissertation at all."

Setting your boundaries can be one of the hardest parts of writing the dissertation. But being blunt and honest with your friends, colleagues, and family can make a world of difference. Even just using the phrase, "I have to protect my time to write the dissertation" can be extremely useful.

You can also bargain with people. "I can't come to the party on Friday night, because that's when I do my writing, but would you like to do coffee on Saturday instead?"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cash For Clunkers (Printer Edition)

Famous scene from the 1999 hit, "Office Space."

As many of you know, a few members of our group have been on a Quest For A Decent Printer. You know the drill...years ago, you were suckered into buying a cheap printer at Costco, because, well, it was cheap. And you've been paying for it in $40 ink cartridges and crappy, sideways-eaten paper jams ever since.

The cheap grad student in you won't allow you to throw out a printer that, okay, technically, sorta works.

But as Margaret, Tanya, and several others have noted, going into your dissertation, you're going to be printing a lot. So it's worth the investment to finally put the nail in the coffin and upgrade to a printer that doesn't make you homicidal.

The student loan checks for the fall semester will be released soon, so you might want to know about this deal:

Office Depot (location nearest to CGU is 2268 Foothill in La Verne, on the south side of Foothill near the Edwards movie theatre) is having a promotion where they'll take your crappy old printer - it doesn't matter what kind - and they'll recycle it for free and give you $50 towards a purchase of a HP printer. The promotion runs August 2nd through September 26th. Only certain HP purchases apply, there's a list on the website.

Traded in a much-despised Lexmark Z55 for a HP Officejet Pro 8500 (in its enormous box)

In addition, if you sign up as a teacher (adjuncting counts!) you get a 10% discount on top of the $50 off.

Price of the printer, minus automatic rebate, printer trade-in, and teacher discount

$50 for that hunk of junk ink-vampire that's cluttering up your desk and making your laptop announce "The printer is jammed" every five and a half seconds.

And they'll recycle it, so you won't have "I just gave a shitty printer to some poor sucker at Goodwill" on your conscience.

Who hasn't fantasized about dragging their printer out into a field and beating the living daylights out of it?

You're Not Alone - Here are some of the members of our group!