…. “because you’re worth it”, says a major advertising company’s strap line. And you are!
Distracted by a personal crisis and possibly influenced by SAD, brought on by a lack of sunlight up here in the north of England, I recently found myself feeling rather uninspired and a bit flat. This resulted in me having lower motivational levels than usual and feeling generally lethargic, which is why my blog has been neglected of late. As things start to improve and the lighter evenings begin to kick in I can feel myself starting to come back to life again – hence the rediscovered motivation to write a new blog. I knew the ‘dip’ in enthusiasm would ebb away eventually – I just bided my time and accepted that you can’t work at 100% all the time. You need to listen to your body and respond accordingly, give yourself an occasional break, accept that you can’t be working 24/7, all year round.
“Luxury!”, I hear postdocs and postgrads cry. “We don’t have time for a break. We need to keep going; running experiments, generating results, analysing data, writing papers and so on. It’s all we can do to fit in the odd conference or departmental seminar!”
I’m generalising here of course, as I know not all researchers think this way. However, if you’re one of those who does, take a few minutes out of your schedule to read the following five suggestions, which hopefully demonstrate that even when you’re not doing research you are still being productive:
1. Read something other than scientific papers relevant to your research – it could be a novel, newspaper, blog, or research/review paper from another field. Reading widely broadens your horizons and promotes innovative ideas, even blue-sky thinking.
2. Treat yourself every now and again – eat your favourite meal, go for a walk, do yoga, watch a movie, go shopping – it’s amazing how ideas can come to you when you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself.
3. Get involved in extra-research activities, e.g. join a learned society, where you will receive a membership newsletter, discounted conference fees and access to travel grants (and a little independence!).
4. Attend career development events – all early career researchers have the right to professional development to help improve their prospects in a range of careers.
5. Prioritise your workload – use this model to guide you:
Of course, the obvious caveat to this blog is that if you’re reading it I’m probably preaching to the converted, and you’re already doing these things anyway! 🙂