By the chat I mean that we sat down and talked about what I can realistically get done in the 3 months before I start to write my thesis. This was unexpected, I knew it needed to happen, I just assumed I would have to be the one to start it. Instead yesterday, about 5:30pm he asked to chat, I assumed he wanted to look at the figures I’d just sent him. We spoke about the figures a little, but then he said “OK, tell me all the things you’re currently working on”.
I listed off my side projects and my various thesis jobs to get done, he said “this is too much, what can we take away?”. He thought I wouldn’t like it, that I’d be reluctant to give up any part of *MY* work, but I’m really not. I know that I have too many things to do, even if I worked 14hours a day, 7days a week, for the next 3months I’d never get it all done. Something has to give. The obvious things to go are the side projects, however I’ve invested a lot of time in these. One I hope will tie into a thesis chapter and has a solid chance of leading to a paper, another is so close to being finished it seems silly to teach someone else the process from scratch. In the end we agreed that I’d continue working on the one that has thesis potential and the other I’d complete the sample ID’s and then pass the project along for the second phase.
OK side projects tackled, now how to deal with the direct thesis workload? I took the boss to my post it wall :). At the time it had 16 post-its, including a long list of mutants to make. Together at about 6pm in the nearly empty office we went through each post-it (the post-it wall is proving its worth over and over again). Having physically movable notes for each individual task made the job of sorting them easy, nothing got missed and I didn’t have to scramble around trying to name everything on my list.
We worked through all the post-it’s and decided which were essential for me to finish, which could be shifted onto the new *if you have time* post-it wall, and which could be done by someone else. I’m now at 10 post-its, a significant decrease, we did disagree about a few (somethings I think are more important than he does) but overall I’m very happy. My workload feels much more achievable and it let me start today with a real sense of purpose. We decided we’ll reassess the maybe items in 1month, when we can see how far I’ve managed to get with the definite jobs.
Overall having “the chat” was a painless process and I’m really happy we’ve sorted it out now and not in a month. I’m even happier that the boss started the conversation, it means he is finally acknowledging that soon I have to go and write which makes it feel very, very real.