Why do you work hard?

(by babyattachmode) Mar 01 2017

Most academics work hard, whether it is the amount of hours you spend in the lab or the efficiency and focus with which you dedicate yourself to your work. And having spend the last 2,5 years outside academia, I don't think this is much different for people outside academia. If I look around the company I work for, many people put in more hours than stated on their contract and work hard. 

But lately I've been wondering why we all work so hard? When I was in academia, I worked hard because I wanted to have my own lab one day, and I knew that for that I needed papers and funding. I worked hard for a long-term goal. And even though I liked doing the work, on many days I did not like the work and purely did it because of that long term goal.

Now, being outside academia, I don't have such a clear long-term goal, and I especially didn't have one when I had just transitioned outside academia. I have been working less hard than in academia, or perhaps I should say: I've been less obsessed with the feeling that I have to work hard. But I'm still working more and harder than I technically should. And I'm trying to get a clear view for myself why I do it. Is it because I hope it will get me higher up in the company (yes, I think), is it for external recognition (yes I guess), is it because I like doing the work (yes, on most days), is it because this is the example my parents have given me (yes, both my parents worked hard and outside of their official working hours)?

What about you? Why do you work hard? Or do you like your work so much that it never feels like hard work, but rather like being allowed to play around all day?

More recent discussions on this here, here and here.

7 responses so far

Link love #7

(by babyattachmode) Feb 26 2017

Oops a week without any other posts than this one, even though the discussion about workload in academia made me want to write a post, my workload outside academia prevented me from that. Which was kind of the point of the post that I had in mind, ironically.

Here are this week's links:

Office politics are things too

Feminism and fragility

Tips on asking questions after a talk

Women aren't failing at science - science is failing women

Black history month and the importance of mentors

Great illustrations highlighting lack of diversity from UN Women Egypt

Recognition

 

No responses yet

Link love #6

(by babyattachmode) Feb 19 2017

Climate changes: how can we make people feel welcome in academia? New blog!

How the battle lines over CRISPR were drawn with a nice visual of the patent landscape around CRISPR.

It's a beautiful child, why did he die? The English translation of the AAAS Kavli award winning Dutch article.

Time-to-credit inequities of first-year PhD students in the biological sciences.

Academic "freedom".

3 responses so far

Things nobody has ever said to me

(by babyattachmode) Feb 18 2017

"Thank you for not taking a vacation but coming in to do extra work".

"Wow such impressive work that you submitted a fellowship application 3 weeks after giving birth" (even though I did not get this grant in the end).

"Thanks for checking your email continuously on the day in the week that you're not working (and hence are not being paid)".

"What dedication that even though you have quit your post-doc job and have 3 weeks of vacation days left, you're still coming in to finish these experiments that you're doing".

Just a selection of things that nobody has ever said to me, ever. And this is (finally) making me realize that whenever you go this extra mile for work, you should do it for you and not to get external validation or praise. Because people tend to not see this effort that you put in in these invisible moments, while at the same time this effort may seem very large to yourself.

5 responses so far

Link love #5

(by babyattachmode) Feb 13 2017

Back with some link love. Albeit not entirely weekly and not a lot of links either. Still getting my ass kicked by tons of work and things for the new house that occupy my mind.

The normalization of human wickedness and our only effective antidote to it.

The Ivanka Trump brand's supply chain is seemingly untraceable

Wait, do ESTA visitors to the US also have to disclose their social media passwords? (spoiler: maybe, I don't know, the article doesn't say and this seems clickbait.)

The relative size of US government agency budgets.

2 responses so far

"Keep up with the post-doc. Don't stop till you get a job."

(by babyattachmode) Feb 10 2017

Well, my good intentions to do a weekly link love and blog more often kind of went down the drain last week. I got sick and am slightly overwhelmed by the combination of working, the new work thing and our new house which is almost ready (aaaahh we need to make the final decisions on the kitchen, we need to get quotes from movers, [insert rest of a lengthy to do list], aaaahh!).

So in the meantime, I just want to amuse you with this Michael Jackson song that I misheard the lyrics of yesterday when we were making decisions about with kitchen countertop we wanted. I'm clearly not the first one who misheard this.

2 responses so far

The ever-returning dilemma on work-life balance

(by babyattachmode) Feb 03 2017

Yesterday I was chatting with a colleague who has 2 small children. We started around the same time and have both been evaluated pretty positively since we joined the company. At the end of the year I got the opportunity to do a new work thing and I accepted this even though I'm now realizing that I am really working at the limits of how much work I can do. She got the same offer and declined. With a heavy heart because it was something that she wanted but with kids that are smaller than mine (and sleeping very unpredictably) she was afraid she would disappoint people because of not being able to deliver what people expected. And because she was afraid she would be exhausted literally all the time.

I've made similar choices when my kids were babies (and am actually still making this choice by officially working 4 days a week instead of 5). But I also realize that declining such an offer before even trying means that perhaps you're missing out on something that could have worked out. But I can also definitely see that the prospect of being exhausted/underperforming makes you opt out. And I'm guessing there's probably a gender difference here. And a bit of perfectionism?

Have you declined opportunities because you were afraid they would be too taxing?

6 responses so far

Link love #4 - and some thoughts

(by babyattachmode) Jan 28 2017

So. It's been a week with Trump in the white house and I guess we can conclude that he is not waiting around to take action on the things he said he would do while campaigning. On the one hand I'm just a spectator who lives in a different country, and objectively, this change is not that different from what happened in Turkey recently, with government changing to what extend they control people and their freedom to express their opinion, etc. But with the US being the country out of which we (Europeans, broadly speaking) get most of our media, entertainment and science, it feels much closer.

@Chall talks about International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

@Doctor_PMS summarizes scientific evidence on how to get scientific evidence across.

As an inhabitant of a small European country, what can we do here? Do we boycott everything coming out of the US, like we did when France was doing nuclear tests back in the 90s? (when, as a consequence, we discovered all these other wine countries like South Africa, Argentina and Chile). I have no answers. Well, maybe these 2 additional links:

Dutch respond with international safe abortion fund

This hilarious video that probably the whole world has already seen.

And finally, some science:

Science Magazine had a paper that was pretty widely picked up by the media about gender stereotypes about intellectual ability that cause 6 year old girls to already feel that being 'really really smart' is something for boys. However, @StuartJRitchie had quite some critical remarks about how their stats was run and whether they could actually draw these conclusions from their paper (click through to twitter for the entire thread):

 

One response so far

The hardest thing I do each week

(by babyattachmode) Jan 25 2017

It is not often that a post sits in my drafts folder for such a long time as this one. I realize the privilege that my biggest worry is the change of pace in a day at home with my kids versus a day at work. It is a major first world problem post. But I'll post it anyway:

I work four days a week, and so does my husband.*  This is very common in my company, and many parents (men and women) do this. Compared to both working five days a week (which we did when we lived in the US), working four and being home with my kids by myself one day very much highlights the difference between those days. And switching from one to the other -to me- is the hardest thing in the week.

At work, I can be focused on my own things, be in the flow and quickly get things finished. It seems like the more I love my work because it a day is so full of energy, the harder it is to be home the day after. At work, there is a totally different mindset than at home, where I need to be patient, and I can only quite vaguely plan the day because generally toddlers have different ideas about priorities than me.

And while I was doubting whether to post this, because I can see it is rather whiny and can definitely be filed under first world problems, I came across this article about a new book that says that the kids - and therefore their parents - from where I live are the happiest in the world:

You won’t find a Dutch mother expressing guilt about the amount of time she spends with her children – she will make a point of finding time for herself outside motherhood and work.

I indeed don't express guilt about the time spent with my kids but I do feel guilty on days where I quietly think to myself that I would rather go to work and be there with my own thoughts than to spend a day trying to get groceries with a 3 year old. And actually, most days at the end of the day I've had a good (and sometimes even relaxing days), but on other days I'm stressing over work emails that continue to come in while my kids are being bored and beating each other over a toy that nobody had looked at for a year but now is the most wonderful thing in the world.

And like with many things, I realize that when it's almost over is when I finally come to enjoy it on most days. Is it because it is easier now that my kids are a bit older? Or have I finally learned how to be patient and how to appreciate the little things...?

 

* In reality, this means that I go into the office 4 days a week, but I generally keep track of my email on my day off, and occasionally call into meetings on that day. The same goes for my husband, who also works at night, which I rarely ever do.

2 responses so far

Link love #3

(by babyattachmode) Jan 22 2017

I'm a little late this week with my (very short) link love post, but at least now I can include a link to ALL the pictures of ALL these women and allies marching to protest against Trump. It warmed my heart to see so many people taking part in this.

The layoff

An (older) NPR Hidden Brain podcast about closing the door on one career (and dream) and opening another.

Finally, I started following illustrator Jacky Fleming on twitter who makes things like this:

One response so far

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