Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Struggles of Scheduling

Joolya made a great suggestion that I should take a martial arts class, and she said I'm not allowed to use time as an excuse.

Don't worry Joolya, I have plenty of excuses!

I love martial arts. I would like to take a class.

I don't have

a) money
b) energy
c) time to commute to one
d) a schedule that works with anyone else's.

For a while I was doing sports and felt guilty all the time - about leaving work to go to practice, and about getting to practice late because I couldn't get out of work early enough.

Sometimes I was doing jumping jacks while still getting dressed because I missed the beginning of warmup. Some of you know that goes. If you don't know, try doing jumping jacks while putting on a sock or tying your shoe. Just try it.

So I would sit in my car every time I got stuck in traffic, debating whether it was worth it. Sometimes I would be so late I would have to miss practice altogether, since the policy was that you couldn't be more than a certain number of minutes late. And then I had rushed out of lab and wasted all the time in the car... for what?

Ultimately I stuck with it for a couple of years, until the place changed and it wasn't fun enough anymore to cope with the commuting.

So then add in e) time to find a new place.

But there is no day, Monday through Friday, that I can be sure I can leave at a certain time EVERY WEEK. It's just impossible to really commit to anything besides lab.

And no matter what I do, as soon as my boyfriend or I pick a sport to coincide with the other's schedule, it gets screwed up. If we're not careful, we don't see each other awake all week.

For example, my boyfriend used to have an activity on Saturdays, so I found one on Saturdays. Then he stopped doing his activity, and for a while I would resent having to get up and go while he slept in, looking so adorable in bed! Then he found a new activity and mine ended. So lately I blog and do chores on Saturday mornings, at least until I find another exercise activity for Saturday mornings. Sometimes it's great that I can sleep in if I'm tired. But mostly I'm jealous because he's off being healthy & non-science while I'm here being... housewifely? Seriously though, he's pretty good about sharing chores, I just really hate the scenario where I'm at home doing them alone and he's out having fun!

aside: (This is one of the things about the lab lifestyle that I'm getting too old for.

It used to be fun to go in on the weekend! I know that sounds lame, but in the summers I appreciate the free air conditioning. In general I appreciate seeing only the people who really want to be there.

In fact, I generally prefer working on the weekend to working during the week, just because of the reduced population, being able to blare my music if I want to and wear flip flops if it's hot out. Who's gonna know my toes aren't covered?

But. I'm ready to have technicians and students to pick up some of the more tedious stuff for me so I can work hard during the week and not have to feed cells on the weekend. Weekend mornings are my protected time, but weekend afternoons are fair game for demands of lab.)

And if I pick a sport where I can go 'any' day, I tend to go less often. I have a gym membership but it tends to fall by the wayside on busy lab weeks.

Really what I need is a personal assistant to do all my chores and organize all my bills at home and papers at work. Until I get one of those, priorities are the following:

1. Stay sane.
2. Get work done.
3. Sleep.
4. Hold relationship together with boyfriend. (sorry, boyfriend, but I think your priorities are the same, so at least it's fair. Or are we doomed?)
5. Exercise.

So everything after #1 is required for #1 to work, but the actual order varies every day. Most days it's the order I listed. At least one day a week sleep is at the bottom, and at least one day a week work is at the bottom.

But I run around a lot at work and lift heavy things... that counts as exercise, right??



At 12:18 PM, Blogger um yeah said...

Is there a weekend activity that you and your boyfriend could do together? That way you aren't home doing chores while he's having fun or vice versa.

Too bad personal assistants cost so much.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Papa Bear said...

I think it's interesting how some people seem to require exercise - or at least enjoy it. Personally, I think there's nothing more mind-numbing than going to the gym. Of course, it seems like a lot of people want to stop thinking about science every now and then, but I figure that's what sleep is for. :)

Now I just have to stop having dreams about lab...

At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said it! This is precisely the reason why I find it difficult to do any sort of activity. Anyway, this summer, I decided that since I keep putting things on hold for labwork, I should do things the other way around. It is a little worrisome, but in the overall scheme of things, I find that I get things done somehow or the other.

p.s. You might want to consider sending this post to

At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you cycle to work? That solves commuting, exercise, and fun in one go.

I've been cycle-commuting for a few years now and I'm too tired by the end of the week to even consider organised sports.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so much fun to read because you really are so nutty, just like me! If staying sane is your number one priority you are living in the wrong world, and probably doing the wrong job. That's just common sense. Relax and be happy because you are going to die in about 70 years. Don't obsess about acomplishing stuff, if it comes natural that's fine otherwise don't waste your time and drive yourself crazy.

"You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way"

"Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money"

At 3:33 AM, Blogger Peter said...

did you know it was Brian Epstein who made Pa personal assistants fashionable, in 1966 he hired one, and she found him after he accidentaly overdosed, also did you know when he was at Princeton ,being Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein was as popular as a Beatle with the female students. I like what he said with immagination being more important than Knowledge, I guess because its infinite ..

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you smoke weed? You should. I think it will help give you some perspective.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Kirsten said...

Sounds like to story of my life, until I started paying more attention to the parts of my life that were lacking.

You just have to schedule time for yourself like you do for your experiments and meetings, and stick to it. You should feel more guilty about not giving yourself enough time than you do about leaving work after being there for 12 hours.

Martial arts are a good idea. Does your university recreation facility offer any classes? They are often cheaper, and scheduled around student schedules, which often match more with the life of a researcher.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

re: weekend activity. Sometimes we go rollerblading or for a long walk. Lately the weather has made that impossible.

Yes, the gym is mind-numbing: that's the point! I used to think my body couldn't make endorphins, but it does make something that makes me feel better. I have WAY too many dreams about lab.

I'll have to check out tomorrow. Right my eyes are killing me, I've been too busy to remember to blink all day!

If I were tougher I could bike to work. It's hilly and there's scary traffic and I'm a wimp.

I like the quote about doing things your own way. And I don't want to live another 70 years! Good god! I think if I can make it another 30, I'll make arrangements to have someone shoot me in the head at that point if I haven't done it myself sooner.

re: guilt, I am so screwed up about guilt. Kirsten sounds very healthy, though!

There are martial arts at my university. I took some there but it's not very appealing. The softer arts are full of retirees and the harder ones are full of teenaged boys. And the teaching is spotty.

More when I'm more awake...

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah maybe an activity together is a good idea? Plus, of course work activity counts towards exercise, it's amazing how many calories you burn off on the go at work!

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Joolya said...

Wow, I am glad I am not the only one having lab dreams. All week I was visting my parents (ie not in lab) and every other night I had a vivid as hell dream about really banal lab tasks, such as plating cells, loading gels, and explaining lamellipodia formation to the new grad student. To the point where I would wake up and be like, Did I actually *do* that experiment???

Re: guilt. My feeling is this (but grain of salt, since I am probbaly destined for obscurity as a result) - health, sanity, and the people I love are more important than work. Always. Of course, sometimes doing the work is essential for maintaining sanity and supporting myself and family, and often has the highest priority on a given day.

But seriously, there's so much to feel guilty about, why feel guilty for not working enough?

Let's lower that bar, children,and we'll all have more time to work out, read our books, cuddle our sig. others, etc. ;)

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Joolya about the order of priorities. I have to be healthy and (relatively) happy to be productive. Also, I love my husband more than science :) Shhh, don't tell my advisor!!! ;)


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