I really needed to be away from the lab for a bit. I was completely exhausted and I spent all of my free time surrounding Christmas and New Years sleeping 10 hours per night whenever I could. The rest of the time was spent sensibly watching Netflix, but only the good stuff, like season 9 of HIMYM (finally). On the Sunday before going back to the lab I still couldn't imagine being at work again, but then Monday came and before I knew it I was back to 10 hour days instead of 10 hour nights.
It's funny. You can be away from the lab and the world just keeps turning, but the minute you are back there is shitloads more stuff that needs to be done than time to actually get to even half of it. That's what I find the most depressing, I think.
I decided that I really needed to start keeping track of my time. And so I decided that I will try to schedule all meetings that are not about content on Mondays through Wednesdays, with Thursdays and Fridays solely dedicated to science. That means the odd experiment every now and again, writing grants and papers, and talking to my people about actual data. And, hopefully, reading a paper every now and then or simply think about a problem for 2 hours. Ah, 2 hours of undevoted attention without a knock on the door. Of course I can spend time on science on Mondays through Wednesdays, the challenge will be to keep Thursdays and Fridays free of teaching/politics/other stuff.
It worked this week. I just looked at my calendar and of course there are already appointments seeping into Thursday. Man, this is about as tough as sticking to some crazy new diet. But here too, there is no failure, there is only a chance to begin again.
The second thing I started to do was actually logging my time. I want to do that for a couple of weeks straight to really see where my time goes. The first thing I noticed was how easily I let myself be interrupted. When someone comes in, I never send anyone away. I always jump up to help/talk/listen. And then it takes me a while to get back into what I was doing. Or, worse, I forgot what I was doing and start up something else. Total time drain! What a wake up call.
Also: e-mail. I am trying to NOT answer e-mail first thing in the morning. Instead, I do it once mid-day around lunch and once in the evening, before going home. Which is risky, because it means there will never be a clean line of being finished and so I will stay at work until forever (which is a risk anyways, because I am definitely an evening person).
I also try to eat better, because I can no longer pretend that chocolate cookies at 11 pm are a decent dinner for a grown up. That's why I had home-made salad on Monday and Tuesday, cooked a real meal at home (at 10 pm, but that's still progress). And then I fell off the wagon and had pizza on Thursday and cookies for dinner on Friday. I swear I need someone to take care of me. Oprah would not approve.
To be continued and, once I have logged stuff for a month or so (which takes a lot of time, actually, because since I apparently let my self be so easily distracted/claimed, I am logging lots of 15 minutes this, 15 minutes thats) I will be able to make bar graphs to see where the time goes. Yay.