Work-Life Balance

In general I expect us all to be in the lab for normal-ish work hours. Typically I arrive in the lab around 9:00 am and I leave in the late afternoon. Some days I leave mid-afternoon when it is my turn to pick up the kids from school. I never work on weekends or evenings (and I rarely did as a graduate student). Occasionally there are “crunch” times, like before the deadline to a grant application, or before a big presentation, where it might make sense to work longer hours or get stuff done on evenings or weekends. In general I try to avoid that kind of situation, and I suggest you do as well. Try to be organized and efficient, and plan ahead, so that your work can get done without having to work in your spare time.

I may now and then send you email or contact you on Slack outside normal work hours, usually because I’ve found some free time to catch up on things. Know however that I don’t expect you to respond outside of your normal work hours. I respect and support the idea of protecting non-work time.

Being present in the lab counts for a lot. You will bump into people and conversations will start, you will talk about your work, their work, a paper you read, a talk you saw. Ideas will happen. Spontaneous interactions like this are a big part of science and of any kind of creative work. The more you’re present, and interactive, the more this will happen. I’m a big proponent of being present as much as possible. Reading papers? Read them here. Writing a results section? Write it here. Grading assignments? Grade them here.

Statutory Holidays are real. Take the time off. I do.

In the summer I typically take several weeks in August for holidays, during which time I won’t be in the lab. I encourage you to do the same, but I realize that your schedules and personal constraints may not align with my own holiday schedule. That’s fine. Just talk to me about when you would like to take time off. Be sure to take time off in the summer. It’s important.

When you’re sick, please stay home. Just let me know you are taking a sick day, stay off your computer, get some rest, and get better. If you come to the lab when you are sick, you will likely get other people sick, and there may be people in the lab, or in the building, for whom it’s dangerous to get sick because of chronic medical conditions. Please stay home if you’re sick.

Being ambitious and working hard are part of our lab culture, but the key is to know your limits. Like in sports, you advance by pushing out of your comfort zone, but if you push too hard you end up injured and stuck on the sidelines. You will probably find as you spend more years in the lab and you mature as a scientist and as a person, your capabilities will expand and you will be able to manage more commitments and projects. Managing your motivation and work habits while integrating interests and commitments outside of work is a key self-leadership skill that will serve you well throughout your career, and now is a great time to build that skill.