Friday, May 25, 2012

ticked off

Sample prep (half a truck full) - 90% done
Equipment check - done
Putting all needed data together - 90% done
The boss' writing task - done
Organization of my absence - done

Not too bad for Friday evening of the "deadline is coming up" week. Just a small bit of work to do on the weekend and a bit on Monday and everything can start smoothly - at least it looks like that at the moment.
And there was even time for an Ayurvedic treatment and a Yoga session - on the expense of two not so important workshops/trainings. Hopefully the good vibrations will last for the upcoming experiments - that would be awesome!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

other peoples deadlines

A deadline getting serious because I myself mess up my scheduling is one thing. Bad scheduling that gets additionally messed up because other people can't hold their deadlines and they "need my help" is something totally different:
my boss decided that I should do some writing for him, not much and even a nice task - just that his deadline was already last week, so I have to squeeeeeeeeeeeeeez this task into my already tight schedule of this week. But as I wanted to make "getting up earlier" a habit anyways, this is just a bit of extra motivation ...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

deadline coming up

Finally, after 19 posts without a single deadline topic, I can proudly present my first serious deadline since quite a while. And it is getting serious! 
There is a major external experiment coming up next week, for which half a truck of samples needs to be prepared. The samples come from two different collaborators. One of them has send the samples in way before schedule, so I had to delay the whole preparation process quite a while, to build up the right amount of mental pressure for this task. Even before this threshold value was reached, I checked if all the equipment needed for preparation was there - and, of course, it was not. Some significant parts got lost and the PhD student, who most probably new where they could be, was away for a few weeks. It took a while until we found out that some not-authorized person had "borrowed" the equipment and broke it in action - the secret person and the PhD student knew about it, but it seems they were all too busy to inform somebody. This first issue was luckily fixed very quickly and I was still relaxed in schedule.
Sample prep was already progressing well this morning, when I realized that the prep lab will be blocked by student classes half the week and I have to squeeze my prep time in between classes, group seminars, meetings about the upcoming experiment,.... - there goes my "still relaxed in schedule". But finally the other half of the half a truck of samples arrived today, so at least I can't blame it on anybody else anymore (= .
So the next days will be a great practise in prioritizing and keeping calm (and maybe humming "soft kitty" once in a while).

Friday, May 18, 2012

bad finance karma

The money story goes on and it becomes apparent, that I don't have a good touch with this topic at the moment. Our payroll people calculated my new net pay as it most likely will be after the LAFHA tax changes come into effect in July. It’s devastating! My net pay will decrease by 1k AU$ per month! That is A LOT! And still there is no final official statement about the whole process, so nobody who will be affected can actually make any sophisticated arrangements - 1.5 month before it all gets started! And it does not seem as if paying the full tax rate would come with getting the same benefits as the general full tax rate person.
But that's not the only bad news! When I signed my contract I was told, that I have to join a superannuation fund. That's in principle not so bad - but I was wondering what happens to this money, when I leave Australia for good. So I asked this question and was told, that I'll just get the money back. Sounded good, so parts of my salary are just parked somewhere, where it might even grow a bit (which it actually doesn't - that's part three of the bad karma story) and when I leave the country, I just get it back. This is correct in principle, just that the lady I asked forgot to tell me about this tiny tiny extra bit of information, that BEFORE the money is transferred back to me, it will be taxed with at least 35%. this is much higher than my current tax rate!
So, this is all very slow and bad information politics and I feel quite ripped off! And I'm still in a good position, as I don't have any big financial burdens. What is with the people who have kids, a sick family member, have to pay a credit back... and they planned with the net pay as it is right now? Can we please be informed about such harsh cuts so much beforehand, that we have the chance to adjust our lifes to it, dear Government?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

happy too soon

If the government suddenly changed their strategy or if it is just based on communication problems, who knows. The latest news say, that all of us on temporary visa will not recieve LAFHA anymore from the 1st of July on - this year, not next year. In 1.5 month we all will have to arrange our lifes with a much lower net pay - yeah! Very thoughtful strategy, thank you!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

good news

In a recent post I wrote about the governments plans to stop the Living Away from Home Allowance (LAHFA), which would lead to strongly reduced income for a lot of people on temporary visa. This income cut is about to commence in July and until today there was no additional information about how the whole process will be going on and who will be affected in which way. But today - finally - they let out a tiny bit of information, that at least for people who already could claim this tax cut, there will be a delay of the commencement date until July 2014. So people have a bit time to adjust their life styles if necessary - and I'm sure in a lot of cases it will be necessary - maybe search for a job with higher income or make arrangements with their current employers. We'll see how these taxation changes will affect the employment of international researchers at Australian universities.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

adjustments to the timetable

Recently I admitted to myself that something seems to go pretty wrong since I'm here. I used to be much more productive and organized during my PhD, but here I'm easily distracted, esp. by all the random thoughts in my head. So I decided to put my focus-helmet back on and dig out some of the old strategies which helped so much in the past.
One of my main problems - and this sounds silly now - is the general working culture here. At my former uni I worked mostly from 8am to 6pm, because I was commuting and bound to the timetable of the trains. This external condition structured everything a lot. If you walk in here at 8am in the morning, you'll maybe meet one or two grad students but certainly no postdocs. This was very confusing during my first days at work, but I adapted very fast and by now I come to work around 9-9:30am - even though I know that my most productive time is in the morning and the best thing I can do in the afternoon is a nap.
So this will be adjusted back to the original time schedule and I'll try to come to work an hour earlier, even though I really got used to sleeping very long.
To make things even more complicated I decided to combine this task with a second one, inspired by Tanya’s fantastic blog and the book The Clockwork Muse. I realized how difficult it is for me to find time for my writing, when there is no boss who gives you a deadline and asks for drafts. So I'll test some strategies to get my own self-motivated and self-structured writing going, starting with dedicating some fixed time slots of my working hours to the task "writing" and then working my way through all the posts on Tanya’s blog - maybe.
I'm very excited about these adjustments, eve though they seem tiny and very straight forward - and then we'll see what a quiet office and one more hour of productive morning time can do to my research.