In my shared office spaces in the past we had no doors. I couldn't seem to stop folks from dropping by and chatting...endlessly. While being collegial is vitally important, I also need to meet my deadlines. Now that I have a door, I wondered if it would be easy to tuck myself inside the office and just work.
Imagine my surprise when I found it hard to actually close the door. I even bought a door-stop to prop open the door. I didn't even realize what I was doing, at first. I walked in, propped the door, sat down, worked, got frustrated when interrupted. Of course, this was ridiculous. I just didn't or couldn't close the door. Why on earth was I mentally struggling over such a silly thing? I had to really reflect about this. Why did I feel so anxious? In the end, I realized that I have to be aware of self-sabotage and unfairly blaming others for a lack of productivity.
I like to feel needed. I like to help others. I like to be engaged and connected while I am at work. Closing the door seemed to send the signal that I was unavailable and unapproachable--two things I certainly NEVER want my students or colleagues to think about me. But, the open door does mean I am "on call" for anyone, all of the time. Students drop by, colleagues chat, noise flows freely.
Today, I closed that door. It is a small victory to some, but it was a big step for me. After my office hours ended, I kicked away the door-stop. I then set my research power hour goal (see previous entry, "Research Power Hour"). And I worked and worked. I did not flinch when someone knocked--I kept working (in the exciting world of data cleaning). In short, I fully committed to prioritizing my research for this time frame.
It worked beautifully. I only had a twinge of guilt that I anticipate will slowly fade away. By making myself available often and regularly, I can take time to shut the door and prioritize other work that often requires uninterrupted thought without coming across as unavailable. I will now fully appreciate the long sought-after door!