Best read with The Feeling’s cover of Kelly Rowland’s Work

I have a very laid back work environment. I can show up when I feel like it, and leave when I want. There is no punching in before X o’clock, and there is no presence requirement. I used to come in around noon, and stay until dinnertime, say 8pm. That way I would have my office almost entirely to myself for half of my workday. I did however feel I wasn’t being as productive in my personal life. Most of my free time back home was spent aimlessly facebook stalking. No good.

In New York, Árni and I had a complete lifestyle change. Mostly due to the fact there is a painstaking -4 hours time difference between Iceland and the US East coast! So we started to have a kind of punch in/punch out mentality (done in our mind) at the New York City Public Library, usually at the best one, i.e. Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) at Madison Avenue/34 street. We would get in when they’d open, 10am or 11am depending on the day of the week, and stay until 4-5pm. Usually we would skip lunch, which might explain the summer’s weight loss, since the library would be packed just after noon. They had the most amazing chairs. God, how I miss them!

Once we got back from our laid back 10-4 work days in NYC, I should continue this lifestyle, at least in some shape or form. I generally get at the office around 10am, my internal clock wakes me up all by itself at 9am now, and if I try to get up earlier, it just snoozes away till its usual 9am (if I have prior engagements that is naturally overwritten). So why fight it? 9 is my magic number. Then depending on my workload, I leave the office quarter to or after 5pm. I like to minimize my time in traffic as much as physically possible. Then I try to stay clear of facebook and idle internetting when I get home, since I probably have done enough already back at the office, and instead do something I feel is more productive. For example, I have been taking up sewing and knitting. Slowly coming along, but not most importantly, coming along. My knittings is becoming more and more regular, no more of those accidental increases or gaping holes. Finally!

I am happy with this arrangement, and am overjoyed I get to keep this up for the rest of my PhD studies. Except if I get so unlucky of teaching morning classes next spring semester. But that’s only one and one day. I’ll bear it, but I am hoping for status-quo.

Why would anyone ever want to get a real job? This is so much better. You get to control your workday purely around what suits you best at any given time. Although I do kind of stick to a kind of flexible punch in/punch out work presence, it is not only flexible towards hours of the day. It can also mean I can work around days that suit me. For instance, I will miss out on work for a week twice in November, and it’s no big deal. I just need to do meet my research paper deadlines, and I can either to that in one hectic and purely work-focused week or disperse it through a longer period. It’s all up to me, really.

That’s why I prefer university to “work”. Oh, and my PhD stipend doesn’t vary that much from what I was getting in the real world, but my quality of life is way much better in terms of freedom in what and how I take on in my work. So I win. I really should start answering people with this reasoning for when I am asked on WHY on Earth I would want to waste my time on getting PhD.

If the ultimate goal is being one’s master, I just don’t understand why it’s socially acceptable to do that by being an independent contractor/running your own business, but not as a financially-secured student?

Nowadays, I consider university as my “work” not as a “school”. Although my professional title hasn’t changed much throughout the years (just the degree prefix to ‘student’), what is expected of me is entirely completely different. So yes, why am I always being looked down on for choosing to be a student, instead of an striving to be an employee?

Maybe I am just a little conceited, but I believe it’s a privilege to be a part of higher education, and become a specialist in something only a select few have the ambition and capability to attain.

Disclaimer: I am sorry, this post was originally just supposed to be about me bragging on how I have it amazingly laid back and entirely suited to my needs and pleasures and still getting paid… not on expressing my resentment for people not respecting my decision for wanting to gain a PhD degree in something I am truly interested in and willing to devout my time, although scarcely anyone will ever want to read my findings. Again, apologies.


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About tungufoss

a PhD student that sews whilst her code compiles...

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