We are in graduate school and that implies we are involved in multiple things such as our programs, professional development, an assistantship, a thesis, our classwork, maybe work, and our outside commitments, to mention a few. We do so much every day. Like, a lot.
So, here is my important question to you my fellow ever-tired graduate colleague. Do you know when to clock-out?
But really clock-out.
Clocking-out to me means that if we go and grab some dinner we can talk about work and school, but at some point move on from there. Don’t get me wrong, I want you to know what I do and what my progress is and I want to know yours. But at some point, I would like to move on and just clock-out and talk about life. (Yes, this means leaving your phone and stop reading and replying e-mails for a couple of hours). People are physically off the clock but mentally still on the clock and it is not healthy or balanced. A reason why I decided to write about this was because friends of mine sometimes can’t sleep at night, or can’t focus in the present. Another reason is because I was struggling with others not being 100% committed to my time as I was to theirs.
Clocking-out is not just you walking out of your office or leaving university premises. This is a mental thing and it requires a lot of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a tough practice and it takes time and effort to develop; it allows you to choose your battles and focus in the present, what matters then, and stop looking around for things that do not have a solution in that moment.
So what is my advice for you to clock-out? Well there are a few; one is implementing better time management skills that will give you time for yourself and those around you. The other one is being better at saying no and choosing your battles more wisely. A colleague of mine once recommended scheduling a 5:01p.m. meeting in my calendar, which only means that I have somewhere to be I’m just not telling you what (I will probably go home and rest) and I will be true to it as if it were a regular work meeting. The other one is clocking out of e-mails if they are not really important, ask yourself, can I wait until the next work day to reply and everything will be okay? If the answer is no, then reply, if the answer is yes or I could just get it over with right now, then wait until the next day.
So I ask you to please clock-out, you need it, you owe it to yourself. The world is going to keep spinning and things are going to fall into place when they need to. Time goes away and you can’t get it back. So please, clock-out whenever you can, do something you like, go back to those hobbies that made you smile when you were a kid, enjoy the company you have, and then go back to your graduate student role full forced and refreshed.
Mara Schaffler | Educational Administration and Human Resources Development
is a second year in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program within the College of Education and Human Development.