“Outsourcing”

I had some work I needed to get done this week, that I really really didn’t want to do. It’s not that it was particularly hard. In fact, all it involves is some writing. And not even technical writing at that. But it’s writing that participants in my next user study will see, and so it needs to be good.

I was hoping I could convince my supervisor to spring for hiring an English student to write it for us. It wouldn’t take them long – just a few hours of work. And so I was happy when he raised the idea of ‘outsourcing’ the work. But, instead of suggesting we hire someone, he suggested that I ‘outsource’ it to our research group.

We have a couple of summer students, plus a couple more undergrads, and myself and another grad student – a reasonable sized group to get help from. So I put out the call. I detailed (briefly) what I needed to do, when I was going to work on it, and that I’d appreciate any and all help that they would provide. And it worked out perfectly.

We all got together and in about two hours, by splitting into smaller groups, we managed to get a draft of it all done. I’m sure it’ll require some tweaks as I put it into my study and have to adapt things to get it work correctly. But, at least I’m no longer staring at it, hoping it’ll magically get itself done. Like all writing, it’s always easier to move forward once you have the initial draft complete.

I have to admit, I was nervous going in to this ‘meeting.’ I wasn’t sure how well it would work. I couldn’t figure out just the right way to even approach it for the meeting, and so I ended up pretty much winging it. But, everything thankfully came together.

So, next time you have a task that you’re dreading to do, see if you can round up a few classmates, colleagues, friends, and fellow researchers to ease your burden. And if you’re struggling to get volunteers, remember that donuts always go a long way. 🙂

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