Thursday, March 02, 2006

getting back from AWOL

This is a great article on getting back from what the author, Mary McKinney, describes as being "academic AWOL". We've all done this at some point or another. The graduate students avoid our PIs because the experiment didn't work, or the cultures all died, or the paper isn't written yet. The PIs avoid looking at paper revisions out of fear of what the reviewers said.

I myself am prone to going AWOL when I get overwhelmed. When I have so many different experiments in various stages of progression that I cannot prioritize. I freeze up. So much to do that I cannot do any of it! Oh, the irony.

The link comes via Bitch, Ph.D., where there are some great tips on beating this phenomena in her comments section. One that I've tried in the past with some success is The List. You make a list of everything that needs to be done, and throw in some really easy things as well, like "Eat lunch" and "Send email to Prof. X". That way you can cross of some things immediately. It really does help boost your momentum. Another trick is to split things up if they're daunting. 200 DNA preps to do? Plan to do only 100 and then something else on your list. Do a big chuck of the stats analysis and then move on to those slides you've been meaning to study. I find this helps alleviate the monotony boredom that many of our science research jobs entail.


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