How do you find work-life balance as an early-career scientist?
You can barely keep up with your own research programme, let alone grantwriting obligations, publishing and staying abreast of literature, news and other information. Is there such a thing as a 40-hour week, or is it as extinct as an 8-track tape?
Many scientists do find balance. But there’s no magic bullet: you have to make choices, delegate and decide to live with imperfection.
And getting the balance right when you have children can be especially challenging – but is not impossible. You have to partition your time, structure experimental protocols so that lab work doesn’t bleed into family time – and, of course, hone your organizational skills.
When it comes to balancing parenthood and work, those who have trod this path warn that you’ll need to learn as much as possible, specifically and well in advance, about what your employer offers for time off and other benefits. And be ready to negotiate if those benefits do not exist or do not meet your needs.
A PhD student and Naturejobs blogger makes the point that it’s often up to you to determine how to find your own best balance. And you must, he says, because overworking doesn’t lead only to burnout. Focussing on only work drains your ability to do your best work. Academics at one of our recent Naturejobs Career Expos took to the stage to explain how they achieve that balance.
And while some folks ride bikes, go hiking or grow veg or flowers to unwind and find balance, others take it just a bit further – by punching out opponents or jumping out of aeroplanes. Hey – whatever works, as long as it’s legal.