Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. You don’t need to work 80 hours in the laboratory to be successful. You need to work more efficiently.
Step 1: Start a morning routine.
For me, working out in the morning is extremely beneficial. However, a routine can be anything. Take time for yourself in the morning rather than rushing around.
Step 2: Use a calendar.
I use Google calendar to plan out my entire workday. Obviously, you need to be flexible in science, but for the most part, I can schedule events down to the hour. Make sure you even pencil in writing time or gym time.
Step 3: Don’t force it.
Some days you will not be productive. Instead of trying to force creativity or work, just take a break or take a walk. Come back later or the next day to tackle the project that was weighing you down.
Step 4: Reward.
At the end of every work week, I reward myself with a specialty high calorie coffee. I don’t let myself have this coffee unless it’s Friday and I’ve accomplished most goals. This must be the psychologist in me.
Step 5: Work limits.
Try to set hours that you are in the laboratory. I try to come in at 9 am and stay until 5 or 6 pm. Any later and I will not be productive. Try to find a time that works best for you, most labs are flexible. Another key is to stay busy. If I have too much free time, that means less structure, and therefore less productivity. This is currently happening to all of us in quarantine. I’m here to tell you that you don’t and will not be as productive. This is a crisis and we will all cope differently. I’ve tried to take up creative hobbies like coloring and painting. This has kept my mind open and able to work from home. It’s difficult to work from home because we have conditioned ourselves to work only in an office or lab. We must now change our behavior to adapt to a life inside our living rooms. In these trying times, be kind to yourself and once this is over you will have the energy you need to tackle anything.
Written by Holly Hunsberger