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Business and Professional Relationships Networking and maintaining a positive environment in the work place is important! Surviving the 9-to-5 within.

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Old 20th September 2013, 9:44 PM   #1
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Overcommitted

I am in a bit of a mess.

I am a doctoral student and decided that I wanted to be more active this year to get more experience and beef up my resume a bit. Since I am done with most of the heavy academic part I thought I could handle it no problem. So currently, the basic, non negotiable things I have to do include 20 hours per week of work (for food etc), 20-24 hour per week at a clinic for practica (mandatory for school), One 8 hour day for classes, and one individual patient i see at another clinc weekly for an hour.

So, my friend recommended me to be a representative of an organization at school, I agreed as I thought it would be a great opportunity for leadership.
Then my other friend who also works in one of the clinics with me asked me to take on one of her clients, as she is preparing to leave. I agreed to this, but it was a while ago and quite frankly I forgot about it as the issue had not been discussed again for a few months.

Then, earlier this summer I was looking for research experience. I received an email from an outside party about an opportunity so I emailed back and said that I was interested. This is when trouble began.
I mentioned that I would not be in town until August, and asked if we could either talk on the phone or meet when I got back. She said we could talk on the phone no problem. I emailed her about a time and date and never heard back from her. So I figured she may have found someone else.

So given this, I kept looking and found another opportunity, which I took immediately, as it is on campus and with a professor I love.

Well, just as I am settling into the new semester I get an email from the lady I had inquired with about that first research opportunity. She sent the email on a Wednesday, asking me to come to sign paperwork and discuss my scheduly on Friday.
Um..now we never talked, I didnt get an interview or had any chance to discuss what the whole thing was about. I told her I could not meet on Friday as I had previous meetings and to let me know if we could meet on another day. She emails back asking me for my schedule, I sent it to her, and once again, I didnt hear back.
So Monday rolls around and I get an email at 10am, asking me if I can come at 1pm. Now, I am irritated. I feel like this lady expects me to drop everything to meet with her last minute. Still, I want to be professional and told her I couldnt meet but to give me another date to see if I could make it. She set an appointment for this coming Monday.
By now I REALLY dont want to work with this lady, but I am afraid I may get a bad reputation if I back out now that we finally figure out a time and date to meet.

On top of that the friend I mentioned previously called me today to let me know that I start with her patients next week. On the one hand I need the hours for the patient, but on the other hand, I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed, and I feel like its noone's fault but by own.

Not sure how to handle all this. Any advice on how to cut back on ANY of this? Particularly whether it would be wise for me to back out of the weird research thing (and how to do it!)?
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Old 21st September 2013, 12:09 PM   #2
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Knowing how to set boundaries and to tell people "no" is important. Both for your own well-being and so you can devote yourself properly to the obligations you do take on. Just try to look at all of this as a good opportunity to get practice in learning how to say "no".

It's really not too late to back out of this research opportunity. You haven't started working there, signed the paperwork, or even sat down to discuss anything yet. It would have probably been best to just e-mail the lady back when you first heard from her at the beginning of the school year and let her know that another opportunity had come up. But it's still fine to do so now. I would just send her a polite e-mail cancelling the appointment and letting her know you won't be available to work with her this semester. Just say you really appreciate her considering you for this position, but unfortunately, things are coming up with your other school and work obligations so you can't commit to anything new. You don't need to go into any more detail than that.

You should also decide what you want to do about your friend's client. If you don't think you want to take on that obligation, you can always talk to your friend and find out if she still has time to find somebody else or if she really needs you to step in at this point. The leadership position at your school's organization also sounds like something that could be passed on to somebody else, so you may want to do that as well.

Good luck with everything. I'm sure you'll be fine. You have a lot of good experiences to put on your resume, and you're working with a lot of people who can give you good recommendations. Your professional reputation is going to be in good shape. Try to relax and be less of a perfectionist.
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