Monday, June 4, 2007

If a grad student works, but nobody sees her do it...

...is she a slacker?

I woke up this morning to pouring rain, quashing my initial plans for the day. I decided to head into work early, and go to the gym this evening instead of running this morning. I sat down with my breakfast in front of my computer and decided to check out a couple files that I'd need for a big to-do list item today. Three hours later, I still hadn't gotten up but I had crossed off the huge to-do list item in grand fashion - data found, corrected, analyzed, plotted, the works. I showered and made myself lunch and now I'm waiting for the next bus, as it is still raining.

On the one hand, I got a TON done - this could have theoretically taken all day between the distractions of officemates, free food, lunch breaks, etc. On the other hand - the other grad students have been in the office, my advisers have possibly been by looking for me...I can't help but feel guilty that I've been working at home, even though I seriously think that I couldn't possibly have been more productive (apparently my ideal work environment involves natural sunlight, open windows, my Anne of Green Gables DVD, and sitting around in my underpants. This should make things interesting as a professor). When I meet with my adviser on Friday, she's going to care that I got a bunch of new data points into our paper, not that I got the points while sitting in my apartment.

I know I'm being ridiculous - I don't feel nearly as bad when I'm at work and websurfing. Why is that?? What is there about a physical presence at work that makes us feel so assured that we're Getting Things Done, regardless of how much we actually do?

(the upshot is that this has further confirmed my belief that, with sufficient planning, I can blow this popsicle stand and work remotely if necessary)

1 comment:

Barb said...

I've been working from home on my thesis research for the past 4 years (part time). My primary reason is that I have better CPUs at home than my advisors can provide for me, so I'm actually getting the data reduction and analysis done faster than I could with the crappy old machine I have at work.

Over that time I've gone through many ups and downs as far as productivity, but I agree with you that generally I'm more productive at home in my jammies than at work with the thousand little work-day distractions (though my cats can prove to be very big distractions when they choose to be).