I’ve found out that I love meetings. Not because they are often basically a group of people sitting around, drinking coffee, and pretending that the discussion totally justifies spending 15 minutes on the current state of politics, sports, or playing didyouseethatarticleaboutthethingilove. Or how many meetings are just rehashes of the old ones, because people a) don’t remember what you talked about last time, and b) haven’t done what was agreed on previously. So you pretty much keep going through the same points again (well, at least you won’t need new slides).
All this aside, I’ve found that meetings have an important motivational effect on me. Working from Germany for projects in Finland means that on a lot of days, I’m basically sitting alone in my yuge office (well, huge for a PhD student). We do have lunches together with colleagues at the office – but otherwise the social interaction is very academic: everyone says “hi” in the morning, and then retreats to their own cave…I mean room for the day. So, for most of the time it’s just me and the computer. Actually, it’s me and two computers, since I’m carrying a laptop to work in the train. Fantastic, twice the capacity for procrastinating online!
Oh yeah, the meetings. It may sound silly or obvious, but I see now that it’s way much easier to work, when you get to have a meeting every once in a while, talk to your supervisor about your work, and get at least a fleeting feeling that someone actually cares about the project you’re working on. I do realise that research is very much driven by intrinsic motivation – most people do the PhD because they’re really curious about some topic, not because they want to get a better wage or impress someone else (btw, these reasons seem way more common in Germany). But the fact that someone else is also invested in the project totally sparks me. I don’t know why, but so far I get the feeling that it’s related to a sense that I’m not willing to let other people down. So, at least for me, there definitely seems to be a floor level of meetings that I should have, because it helps to keep up my motivation. No book has ever mentioned this effect, but I guess most workplaces are chock full of meetings, so that this is not a relevant risk – unlike coffee and bun overdoses.
With these thoughts in mind, I can honestly say I’m really looking forward to flying to Helsinki tomorrow, and attending some meetings! Another point to improve motivation would be to somehow make me seem more connected to our work group when here, but so far I’m lost on how to do that. If anyone else has any good tips from their teleworking experiences, help is appreciated!