Real work every day

22 Oct

I am now 12 days into my “Being a better scientist” project. When I started, I made two general resolutions:
1. Do real work every day
2. No work after 8PM

Last week I added a third one:
3. Go to work five days a week (as opposed to working from home)

For me, “real work” means research. My job is to do research. My career is based on research. It’s what I want to do. I want to find out why HIV becomes resistant to drugs and how we can stop HIV from doing that. Only by doing research I can answer that question. But much of my time is spent on non-research tasks. Here are some of the tasks on my to-do list for this week:
1. Write applications for faculty jobs
2. Send emails about a symposium I organize with three others
3. Write the end-of-year report for my HFSP fellowship
4. Answer emails
5. Move my website
6. Attend labmeeting

These non-research tasks are often easier than doing research and they can be finished quicker and thus give the satisfaction of crossing off an item of my to-do list. I also like some of these tasks a lot (although writing an end-of-year report is not one of my favorites). Plus, they are often associated with some pressure from others to get the tasks done. For all of these reasons, I can easily spend an entire day working hard and feeling good about getting stuff done, but without doing any research. I decided that that was not very smart. Hence the resolution: “Do real work every day.”

Today I had lot’s of non-research things to do, so I was tempted to let my self off the hook regarding the “Real work every day” resolution. But I managed to squeeze in 45 minutes of coding, and started simulations that will run through the night. I love it when my computer is doing research while I sleep! I will definitely stick with this resolution.

2 Responses to “Real work every day”

  1. Angela Roe October 22, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Pleuntje… this is awesome. I needed this. I am a researcher too. My topic is racism. Most of my time is spent on non-research tasks too so I feel you fully on all that you wrote. And I love your resolutions; I work at home from my porch, from 8 am to 11 pm, 6,5 days a week. I’ma adopt yours, and I’ma keep reading your blog. Keep writing it 😀 Big hug from one of your oldest friends.

  2. pleunipennings October 23, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Hi Angela, thanks for your comment! I would love to read some of your work one day. Is it understandable for lay-people like me?

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