One of the biggest frustrations in my work is when researchers/ students sign up for a workshop I’m running and then don’t turn up citing the excuse that they are too busy and don’t have time to attend. Equally, I hear many researchers saying they don’t have time and are too stretched to do any extra-research activities such as attending conferences, getting involved in outreach events, going along to internal seminars or clubs, etc. Is this really the case I ask myself? Or is it simply bad time management. I’m guessing it’s a combination of the two: too much to do so lab work is prioritised over everything else. Publishable results and papers are important for a future career in research, but they are “not the only fruit”. If early-career researchers don’t make the effort to develop their careers through networking, communicating more widely and generally paying attention to their personal career development they may not be spending their time as wisely as they could be. Extra-curricular out-of-hours projects can be as important, sometimes even more so, than the core of the PhD or postdoc job requirements.
Today is the release date of my book “Career planning for research bioscientists” which, being an ancillary project to my paid job, took me three years to write. During that time, I substituted beach holidays for writing retreats, disappeared at weekends, and even gave up two Christmases. My motivation was tested to the limit as I struggled to take my leisure time a lot more seriously, rationing it between writing the book and time spent with friends and family, keeping fit and even basic needs such as eating and sleeping. I’m sure anyone who’s written up a PhD thesis can relate to some of this! Now that my book is being published and I can see the fruits of my labour, I’m glad I dedicated so much time to writing it. The sense of achievement is immense, as well as the feeling that it’s going to be a useful resource for bioscientists. In fact, I had an early book launch two weeks ago on my landmark birthday as I thought, having put in so much hard work, a fun celebration with my much-neglected friends and family would act as the perfect antidote (and, of course, the launch cake was a convenient diversion to the birthday cake with its furnace of candles – thanks to baking queen, Catherine Kitching, pictured far left below).
Anyway, better dash, can’t spend any more time on my blog …. Got to get on with some real work!