- Create a good space: Mm-hmm... mm-hmm... I hear you there. I hate working in the sunless, cold, noisy (pumps), uncomfortable chair lab environment unless I'm doing an experiment and actually have to be in this environment. But I'm also not to keen on working in my overly warm, moth-infested, noisy-neighbour, bad creaky chair environment of my office either. Except... I don't think anyone would take kindly to my demanding a sunny corner office with no noisy co-workers, and a light pipe for the lab so we don't feel so much like Doozers (Fraggle Rock? Anyone?).
- Raise your status: Mm-HMM... yes, being the boss would alevieate stressful incidents like last night, what a great solution, dang-nabit, why didn't I think of that?!? Except... I don't think anyone is going to hire me until I've jumped the hoops... and even then it will be a while before I can start pawning off responsibilities and get that nice corner office complete with real sunshine.
- Be social: Uhhh... lost me here. I mean sure, a little chit-chat might feel good at the time, but it's like a sugar hit. Get back to your desk and realize your to do list is just as long as when you left? Crash... sugar-low. A little socializing... ok, but I think it's rare for grad students anyway, in shared offices and lab spaces to be lacking in social contact.
- Don't be too social (aka: too many interruption): Yup. They say the average worker has 3 minutes to focus between interruptions. Yipes. You see this is what happened yesterday... everytime I turned around another task popped up making it virtually impossible to complete tasks. I just ended up with a to-do list in constant flux.
- Learn to switch off: This is exactly what I didn't do last night. It started out well, Hubby and I had dinner, watched some TV (yay, Grey's Anatomy! except... they won't kill off Merideth will they??? they can't... right??), I did some knitting. Then I picked up my computer to do some aimless web-browsing or possibly play a few turns of Civ before bed, and somehow I automatically clicked on email immediately after turning on Airport. Ok... sure... whatever, might as well confirm there's nothing there, or maybe a message from a friend? No harm? Right? Email from boss... bad idea. If I'd just left it alone, I wouldn't have worried about it until the morning when it likely would have been too late to do anything about it. And so be it. It wasn't like I stopped work early (~6:30-7pm... right around when the email was sent). It would have been perfectly reasonable for a normal person to have simply just not gotten the message. Dang. No more email at home. Not unless there's a reason.
- Modern stress-busting (yoga and other trendy things): Sure whatever. I'm going to hockey class in an hour and a half and have a game on Sunday. Maybe slapping some pucks around will help with my stress. It's also social, being a team sport and all.
Moral of the story? Probably the worst stressor of all for grad students is having the majority of these things out of our control. So take a deep breath, pound down some coffee, find a way to get your aggression out, and wait for that glorious moment when you get to the top and can demand that perfect office.
* title taken from a grade school french text I had: "le point de craquer" was at the top of the "stress-o-metre"... "je suis a le point de craquer!!!!" became a silly expression amongst my friends and I.