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2013 CRA-W Graduate Cohort Workshop Balancing Graduate School and Personal Life.

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Presentation on theme: "2013 CRA-W Graduate Cohort Workshop Balancing Graduate School and Personal Life."— Presentation transcript:

1 2013 CRA-W Graduate Cohort Workshop Balancing Graduate School and Personal Life

2 A.J. Brush Senior Researcher Microsoft Research Thanks to Andrea Danyluk, Tiffani Williams (GHC 2011 on this topic), Padma Raghavan (GHC 2012 on this topic)

3 Everyones Definition of Professional-Personal Balance is Different Your definition must be unique to you and your situation. Without a definition or some type of guidance, how will you know you are out-of-balance? Being out of balance causes even more stress, etc.

4 Question #1: What does Graduate School and Personal Life Balance Mean to You? AKA I feel in balance when _______. I feel out of balance when ____.

5 A.J.s Journey Parallel Computing, Graphics

6 Got married in Graduate School

7 Moved to St. Louis, 1 year leave from graduate school Human Computer Interaction

8 Returned to Graduate School Human Computer Interaction

9 Finished Ph.D., internships, had a kid, post-doc

10 Joined MSR in 2004, husband found job, had another kid

11 Question #1: What does Graduate School and Personal Life Balance Mean to You? AKA I feel in balance when _______. I feel out of balance when ____. Take a few minutes now to write down your answers

12 A.J. feels Balanced when I Minimize work in the evenings/weekends Spend time in my kids classrooms Exercise A.J. feels Un-Balanced: inbox gets large Too many meetings back to back 6 month/year professional goals arent well defined

13 Question #2: When do you feel in and out of balance?

14 Session Take-away Balance takes effort Can we each leave with 2 balance goals? Next week goal (short term) 6 month goal (longer term)

15 How we get out-of balance: General Academic Stresses The nature of grad school itself – Open-ended – What it means to complete a milestone more vague once course requirements complete – No obvious finishing date Were high achievers – We tend to be goal-oriented perfectionists – Theres always more to do – Can feel as if its a competition for who works the hardest We all have insecurities We cant manage an insane pace forever – Burnout, poor productivity Demands come from many directions

16 How we get out-of balance: Some Specific Academic Stresses Courses – Want to learn the material and to do well – Need to learn that sometimes doing well enough is ok Research – Might be a new experience – Requires a new level of independence and confidence (paper submissions, rejections….) – Need to push through the times when youre just stuck – Requires dealing with group dynamics – Requires learning from but also managing your advisor Advisor/Thesis Topic Service – Its fun (and easy!) to get involved in departmental and other service – Extra demands placed on women Work as a TA, RA, etc.

17 How we get out-of balance: Personal Stresses Many people in our lives (partners, parents, friends, children) – A source of happiness, but – Their stresses can be our stresses For many, a time for finding a partner, starting a family Managing finances on a grad student stipend Logistics of caring for a home (even a small shared apartment), a car, etc. Health issues

18 Achieving balance: Goals and Expectations Know your own goals – Prioritize them – Post them where you can see them, if needed Understand others expectations – Know which expectations are self-inflicted! Understand whats required to achieve a goal – Know why you want to achieve it – Be sure (to the extent possible) that its achievable – Know how to evaluate your progress – Talk to your mentors and others Learn to enjoy the process – Focus on the present – Appreciate your achievements before moving on

19 Question #3: What Are Your Balance/Life Goals?



22 Tip 1: Time Management!!!!! Treat graduate school like a job – It doesnt need to be/shouldnt be 24 hrs/7 days a week Know when its time to stop – For many tasks, 1-hr increments work well – Keep the perfectionist in you under control Get organized – To-do lists: short, medium, and long term – Keep a calendar – Set aside time each day to review your schedule Avoid distractions – Make a list of your bad habits – Set aside quiet time; pick a time to work when others arent there – Set aside time for – If a stray thought pops into your head, write it down. Save it for later. TIME SPENT != PRODUCTIVITY


24 Tip 2: Cope with Insecurities Seek out a support system – Mentors – Family and friends Realize that we all have insecurities Do your homework to minimize your chances of failing – But everyone will fail once in a while. Its a natural consequence of doing something hard. Learn to enjoy your successes – Dont belittle your own accomplishments – Keep a good file of positive feedback

25 Tip 3: Choose activities carefully Saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else – Or at least it means having less time for what youre already doing Take some time before you decide – Thanks for the invitation let me think it over and get back to you by X Does it fit your goals and priorities? Dont do anything out of guilt – Say yes or no to the task, not the person

26 Tip 4: Managing Others If you plan to say no to a request to take on a new responsibility – Do it as soon as possible – Suggest someone else who might be available and want to do it – If you really wish you could do it, say so; ask to be invited again Set boundaries, parameters – Explain why you believe it will take longer – Communicate about the resources you need What to do about the advisor, student (if youre a TA), fellow grad student who needs you now – Id be happy to talk/help you/etc. Can we schedule a time (in 5 min, an hour, next week….) do do that?

27 Tip 5: Making time for yourself Schedule time for yourself – Free time wont magically appear; you have to make it Exercise. Share responsibilities with friends Throw money at responsibilities (when you can afford it; can be tough as a grad student!) Streamline Dont apologize for the fact that you have a life outside of grad school!

28 Tip 6: Learn what motivates you! Figure out how you are motivated – Fear – e.g. sign up for half marathon – Big reward – trip/clothes/stuff – Publicity – tell all your friends – …. Use that to achieve your goals REWARD YOURSELF!

29 Discussion: Discussion Starter Ideas Work Overload Advisors/Thesis topics Two-body opportunities Children/Family Lean-in

30 Session Take-away Balance takes effort Can we each leave with 2 goals Next week goal (short term) 6 month goal (longer term) THIS IS A CONSTANT WORK-IN-PROGRESS YOU WILL HAVE UPs AND DOWNs

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