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Focus on positive things in life

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I went to attend a conference, with a hope to contact the person A.R., who would later unwilling to give even 30 seconds. It reminds me again on who I am here. Not an elitist, I am more like a peasant’s child who managed to penetrate the system. It’s okay, I move on. There are many things in life worth-better to pursue. While cycling back, my mind thought of successful people who are friendly to me. They are my role models. I made a stop at the Trinity gate, for the purple flowers have blossomed into a beautiful purple carpet, with a bit of yellow ones.

At least, I learned a bit about coaching – where one of the attendees is doing unpaid research, she said she got a paper accepted yesterday. The 2nd funding I applied to was rejected yesterday.

The talk given by Christina Dodwell was interesting, she has the style of story-teller. I enjoyed it. She had a broken relationship, lost her job, so decided to travel to Africa for a year in late 70s. Her dream was scattered when her land-rover was stolen in a month there. She had been initiated into manhood in Papua, jailed, robbed, what a life experience! Losing everything is not the end of world (there’s time in her life that she lives in caravan). She also established the Dodwell Trust, to aid in English teaching in Madagascar. I want to do similar stuff too, to promote education in my birth country and my ancestor country.

I also learned about portfolio career.
A portfolio career is the pursuit of more than one income source simultaneously, usually by applying the various skills you’ve developed throughout your career to different types of work. For example, you could combine consulting with part-time work, teaching at a local college and freelance writing. You could use your speaking and facilitation skills to lead workshops at companies or educational institutions. You could even develop your own product or service.

While avoiding boring-for-me talks, I read about tips on work-life balances. I am going to put here on this weekend.

Strategies for busy researchers
For being a successful researcher and also for having a life outside of research.
There are always unexpected emergencies and opportunities that can knock us out of balance.

Ten strategies to keep our work in balance
1. MAKE A PLAN
So if we look ahead to the next year, what are our plans? What would we really like to achieve by the end of the year? By the end of 3 months? By the end of this week? By the end of today? What is the most important thing you need to get done today?

2. PICK THE RIGHT THINGS
It’s more important to be doing the right things than doing things right.
A massive teaching load is not going to help your research career.
Of course some things will be out fo our control, but not everything. Are there things on our list that are taking up time but are not really helpful?

3. MAKE TIME FOR RESEARCH
It’s suggested that we set aside two hours, e.g. between 9 and 11am, that we dedicate to writing or analysis.

4. Learn how to say NO
A good one is learn how not to say YES so readily. When someone asks us to take on a new commitment, we might answer, “That sounds interesting. Can I get back to you?” or “I’ll just need to check my diary and I’ll give you a call back”.

5. DELEGATE

6. SET REALISTIC STANDARDS
We are often critical of our own work leading to a lot of self-doubt and concerns about our ability. We can try to get an objective opinion from someone else.

7. WRITE REGULARLY (AND THEN SUBMIT IT!)
There was an experiment in which a PhD student was put on a regime of writing for two hours three days a week. He achieved  more in six weeks than he had in the previous six months.

8. DON’T CHECK YOUR EMAIL 1st THING IN THE MORNING
We can increase our daily productivity by about 20%.

9. 3D options FOR PAPERWORK (INCLUDING EMAIL):
do it.
do it later (put in diary / organizer).
discard it (do not care).

10. DEAL WITH DISTRACTIONS
~ Don’t answer our phone at certain times. Let it go to the answering machine when we are trying to concentrate / writing.
~ Turn off the ‘bing’ in our email program. Even better, turn off our email program.
~ Go to a quiet place if we need to do concentrated work.

Ten strategies to keep the non-work part of our life in balance:

1. ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES BETWEEN WORK and NON-WORK
It’s good to be off duty sometimes. That’s when we recharge, catch up with family, and attend to the other parts of our life.
A senior academic said, “In the past I used to procrastinate about things because I knew I’d do them on the weekend. Now I focus on finishing things when I’m at work because I know I’m not going to work on the weekend. It’s helped me focus on the important things”.

2. GET A ROUTINE
e.g. go church (honestly I often daydreaming), pursue arts (photography, movies), learn languages and interesting travel destinations, read books.

3. ASK OUR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS BEFORE TAKING ON MAJOR COMMITMENTS
It’s interesting to think that  many of us give our best to people we don’t know very well and the people we do care about see us when we’re tired and worn out.

4. DON’T WORRY ABOUT WORK WHEN WE REST
It’s important to distinguish between problem-solving and worry. Problem solving is a fairly structured process of working out what can be done. Worrying is recycling the same thoughts over and over. It’s a pretty destructive activity because not only does it not solve the problem, it wears out our neurons.

5. BOOK BREAKS AND HOLIDAYS
One early career researcher described how she would feel guilty about taking a holiday so she always brought her data with her so she could analyze it. Of course she never looked at it which made her feel guilty too.
Give holidays to our laptop and paperwork too.
My personal note: It’s useful to bring some of our notes for learning (not those require complex thinking ones), for waiting on the public transports, etc; good when we are returning from trips 🙂

6. DELEGATE, OUTSOURCE, GET HELP
e.g. babysitter

7. EXERCISE, DIET, HEALTH
It’s tempting, when we’re under pressure from looming deadlines, to work late into the nights and sleep less. This might work in the short term but it becomes counter-productive.

Looking after ourselves works better if we have a routine. e.g. go for a walk at lunchtime.

8. ME TIME

9. REVIEW OUR PRIORITIES
Because everyone else has the latest labor-saving gadget, you get one. And the you have to work harder to pay for it. And it doesn’t seem to save you much labor.

10. HAVE FUN

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Written by blueroselady

February 25, 2009 at 3:31 pm

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