The Email Dilemma (Shelley Farrar)

by | May 9, 2015 | Uncategorised | 0 comments


This month I have learnt that I am terribly impatient. I have been waiting for writing feedback, data catalogues to choose the best museum material, responses from curators, details of the long awaited departmental building move and the looming decision of an international placement opportunity. And whilst waiting includes continuing my research and keeping busy, a large proportion of me is on high alert for the next email in my inbox. This is my life now: becoming mildly excited every time I hear my email alert tone.

But weirdly I feel more confident in my ability to communicate via email. There is no longer the undergraduate-level anxiety of choosing the correct way to address a professor. I can, and sadly have, written politely worded emails in my sleep. As part of my duties in the department, I am a secretary for a research network, where I inform the network of relevant events and conferences through an email list and try to reduce the number of cross posts that occur. I now often get email alerts at weekends and occasionally in the middle of the night (when time differences are not anticipated by the sender).

My ability to switch off from this side of my PhD is severely reduced. I have decided to try and only answer emails at two designated times a day (unless there is a pressing need for a reply). This does not stop the problem of alerts but this is no more of an interference than any social media and messaging alert commanding your attention. For now I like to be readily available (and I am impatiently waiting for the next piece of communication) but I can see a time when I may need to be stricter in the amount of attention I provide to things outside my research. At least for a few hours a day.