I’ve heard often as a graduate student that it is important to set aside time to think. However, it seems like all of us struggle with actually following that advice, especially early in our career. As I’ve finished taking classes and have a much more flexible schedule this summer, it is prime time for me to make sure I sit and think enough to plan out my dissertation. However, I’ve found a couple of things are making it rather difficult for me to actually purposefully do nothing but think and I suspect most of us run into these problems.
It is a commonly acknowledged problem in academia that success often comes at the expense of having a life outside of work (or at least seems like it has to). As a result, there are many attempts to help academics improve their work/life balance. Unfortunately, these attempts often devolve into motivational platitudes and advice that most people have already heard. And understandably so – work/life balance is a tricky subject to confront! This difficulty results from the confluence of two major factors: Different people want different things out of their lives, so balance means different things to different people. These topics can be so personal that people often don’t feel comfortable discussing them in concrete terms.
I just got back from GECCO 2015. Despite my lack of ability to speak Spanish (it was in Madrid), I had a great time, and I was really impressed by a number of the talks. So here’s a quick highlight reel:
After Man: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon is a fictional non-fiction book proposing possible evolutionary tracks for the species that remain 50 million years after the Age of Man. As a fan of sci-fi and evolution, I couldn’t resist asking Dr. Ofria if I could borrow it when I spotted After Man on his shelf. As with most popular audience books, After Man doesn’t do a perfect job describing evolutionary events, but it is highly entertaining to read through. I also suspect that a very fun unit could be created around After Man for a high school or intro biology course.