Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Friends and Family

One thing I do have to warn you about.  It's not only you who are making the sacrifices for your PhD, it's your family and friends.  Now, I don't mean that in order to get your PhD, you have to completely neglect all family and friends and run into a cave a seclude yourself for the next several years.  Not at all.

However, there will be times when you can't take that family trip or can't go to the reunion because you have that darned dissertation you have write as well as balancing all your other responsibilities in life.  It's a sacrifice that you have to understand and your spouse, family members, and friends have to understand as well.  For the most part, I was able to see my friends on a regular basis.  I made time at least once a month to see them or call.  I made sure I spent time with my boyfriend (now fiancee) at least one hour a night.  However, there were times I couldn't go to a birthday party in another state or go to the family reunion.  Work and dissertation made it impossible.

Here's where scheduling comes into play.  If you set yourself up a schedule, like I said the one hour a day to work on your dissertation, and set up a routine with family and friends, it helps with managing both your academic life and your social life.  Now, that is not to say we become snobs and declare to our family members, "I only have X amount of hours for you, so let's make it snappy!"  It's giving yourself a schedule and letting yourself make time for your family and friends.

Try to at least see your friends and non-immediate (in-state) family once a month, so they know that they are important to you.  If your friends happen to be the really social types, don't be afraid to say "Hey, I'd love to come, but I gotta work on my dissertation.  Maybe next time?"    Also, don't be afraid to give yourself some time off to rest.  If friends start noticing your routine, then they will start to understand your schedule and know that they are not being neglected because at least they'll realize that you are seeing once a month.

Immediate household family is a little different.  I'd recommend making time for them at least once a day, maybe for an hour or two.  To go from seeing you everyday to once every two weeks is completely unacceptable.  You are striving for something important in your career, but family (especially immediate family in your household) takes precedence.  For my out-of-state relatives, I'd try to see them once per year.  I wish I could see them more, but even from work you have only so many vacation days.  Another alternative was asking them to come up and see me.  That often worked too.

So, that is my advice for you regarding family members and friends.  I hope this helps. If you have any other questions regarding this topic, feel free to post in the comments section.  I'd love to hear your suggestions as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment