Life Of A Scientist: The Life-Science Tightrope Act

Scientific careers are challenging for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, science is really, really hard.Working with questions that don’t have an answer -that might not even have an answer – is by definition the hardest thing anyone can do. On top of that, the nature of lab work is very flexible. Running experiments can take a very long time and require weeks of constant work. On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter if  you start them exactly at 9 or if you take a longer lunch break to go to the gym. While this might seem- an often is – a rather sweet deal, it makes balancing work and life rather tricky. Here are a few of my favorite strategies to  deal with the work-life tightrope. What are yours?

  1. Schedule, schedule, schedule
    • The best way to be efficient is to schedule your work as well as your personal commitments. Whether you keep a dairy, a desk planner or a calendar on your computer (I can’t, I need tophysically write stuff down), planning your days for efficiency is vital. Keeping a work-based and a life-based to do list and then scheduling each item to fit into your schedule is a fool-proof to get everythingdonewith makimum efficiency. This way, you can take full advantage of the unique advantages of being a scientist. If you have some errands to run that have to happen 9-5, you can take care of those and finish upyour work late ron in the evening or at the weekend.
  2. Find a way to keep the momentum
    • As a scientist, yourworkisyour passion. That can make it very difficult to just leave everything at the end of the day and go home to focus on your life. One way to fight this is to find a way to keep a mental bookmark in where you are with your thoughts and ideas so you can start right back up the following day. The easierst way to do this is to take a couple of minutes each day to jot down a few key notes before you leave. If you write-as-you think or use a whiteboard, taking a picture with your cell phone is just as easy!
  3. Keep the people in your life involved
    • Anyone with a very involved job will end up missing parts of life for their work. The easiest way to make this work is to keep the people in your life involved. If they know what you’re working for,they will be happier to accommodate your needs. If you tackle your science as a team with the poeple who matter the most to you, you will find balancing your life a lot simpler.
  4. Prioritize what matters most
    • If you want to be a scientist and you want to have a life, you are going to miss out on things, If you succeed in your balancing act, you will miss out on some things from your life and some things from your work. In order to make sure that the things you miss are not the most important ones, prioritize. Know what’s important in your life and what you could miss without it being the end of the world. Same thing for your work. Then start from the top of the priority list and work your way down -by the time you run out of space in your schedule, you will have taken care of the most important things both for work and life.

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