Mid-day, I had a meeting with a grad student. I am interested in the work she wants to do, so I enjoy talking to her about that. But also she engages me in discussions about departmental dynamics, her fears of certain profs, etc. So many issues! She came in at 1pm, and when she left I almost cried when I looked at the clock: 3:41.
That meeting ate up over 2 1/2 hours of my day. The rest of the afternoon was a scramble to accomplish the basics. Still so much undone.
Notice how I wrote "she engages me..."--as if I am helpless in the matter? This is a big problem. It is hard for me to cut off the conversation and protect my time. Once, with my old chair, she was in my office talking my head off from 3:30 to 7:15--nearly 4 hours.
I am no shrinking violet--I have a spine and can definitely assert myself. In these contexts, I am at first very aware of time. But if I sense that they REALLY need to talk to me about whatever, I let the conversation go on. Then I go into this "state of timelessness" in which I no longer think about time. Once the conversation winds down, it is 2-3 hours later.
What am I going to do about it? I better do something, as this grad student is doing an independent study with me next semester. Ideas:
- Have admin asst call me after one hour, so I can pretend I have to go (problems: lame, plus the admin asst doesn't have time for that silliness).
- Set my iPod Touch alarm to go off after 45 minutes, then end conversation (problem: I did that yesterday. There was still so much to cover, I just turned it off; next thing you know, 2.5 hrs passed. Improved plan: set alarm to go off at 45 minutes, then again every 15 minutes).
- Set appointments at end of day, when I really really DO have to leave to pick up kids (problem: she prefers not to meet at 4pm on Friday, but really, that's her problem and she's going to have to bend).
- Be extremely clear that the meeting is only for 45 minutes (or whatever). We can socialize sometimes in the early evening at a more leisurely pace.
- Meet with her more regularly for shorter intervals. Lately, she has been setting up meetings every month, or less, and issues with her build to a critical mass over that time.
Any ideas out there? Help!