The yearly cycle

In academia, the year is clearly dictated by what needs to happen for students: teaching, exams, grading. Although for most grad students and postdocs the most noticeable thing is how busy it is in the lab (depending on whether you're in Europe, where in vacations it's peacefully quiet in the lab while in the US there might be summer students joining the lab.

Before joining a company, I hadn't realized how different the yearly cycle is here. This was my first whole year here and this is what I learned: Here, in the beginning of the year people set objectives/targets/goals/whatever you call them for themselves (in agreement with their manager of course). And the targets of a whole team make up the target of the team leader, the targets of all the team leaders make up the targets of the boss of all the teams and that way everyone is connected to each other. The targets need to be met by the end of the year and if you do more (either the defined 'stretches' or additional stuff that comes up during the year) you get a higher bonus.

In reality, all sorts of ad hoc tasks and things that have not been defined as targets come up during the year. Obviously progress is monitored during the whole year, but I discovered this year that I find it hard to say no to things that seem fun to do or useful for me or the company (or both - best case scenario), like new experiments, new collaborations, guest lectures and what not. However those things distract from finishing your actual targets, which in reality means that the next couple weeks will be filled with finishing things before the end of the year in order to meet all the expectations. So if you're wondering why things are quiet around here, it's because I need to type all the things before Christmas!

What is the busiest time of the year for you?

2 responses so far

  • Zuska says:

    That "discovery" that the whole world did not move to the academic calendar was disorienting for me! And I missed the sense of renewal that fall used to bring. But I came to like the business world calendar just fine.

    Now that I'm not working, but am gardening & cooking more, I am more attuned to the cyclical seasonal timeframe. And am increasingly astonished at how the wheel spins faster & faster with every turn. The busiest time in the garden is spring - frantic to keep up with weeding, get in new plants, mulch, prune, move things around, recover from winter damage, and maybe even enjoy the blooms. By "spring" I mean late March through the end of June. The garden is just insane till summer heat hits.

    Cooking is easier in the summer - salads, grilling, fresh veggies prepared simply. In autumn the cooking gets more complex - soups, stews, root vegetables transformed into all sorts of things Mr. Z will eat without asking "shouldn't that have ground meat?"

    Winter is for sitting under the blankets with a cat on the lap and a cup of tea in hand. And mourning that the last of past summer's frozen blueberries have been eaten. No more for many long months. But apples! Apples and pears will get you through.

  • […] noticed it's been a month since I last posted here, which is mostly because it's busy here. Like I wrote before, I have this whole list of things that need to be finished before the end of the year because those […]

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