Tailspin

originally posted on LabSpaces

Wow, where exactly did my time, energy, and sanity go? With everything going on in the lab and at home, I’m having a terribly difficult time keeping this blog going; I can only imagine how crazy things will get in the coming months. I’m a big fan of work-life balance, but I can’t seem to focus on either one these days. When I’m working on job applications, I find myself thinking about the journal club I have to put together. So I switch to working on the journal club, then the upcoming interviews for the little Monkey’s pediatrician take over. And this doesn’t even begin to cover the time I spent analyzing data earlier in the week, or the follow-up studies I need to begin working on Monday morning. I start working on anything, and everything ends up spinning in my head until I feel like my brain has been thrown in a blender:

blender brain

Figure 1. Seriously, this came right up when I Googled “blender brain”…gotta love the internets

In the midst of this vortex, I’ve found myself more dependent than ever on my organizational skillz; Hubby even joked this morning that I’m starting to make lists of my to-do lists. It’s true – my organizational tendencies are in hyperdrive right now, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. Which is why I find it curious that many scientists find my level of organization to be inhibitory to their creative scientific juices. I mean, how many PI’s desks have I seen looking like more like this:

cluttered desk

Figure 2. Seriously????

Maybe it’s the sign of an inferior mind, but I find a de-cluttered space is absolutely necessary for my brain to function. I strive to keep my bench and desk neat, and I gave in this past Thursday to organizing the piles of paper that had accumulated on my desks (notice the plural) and overflowed onto my bench. Then I packed up my bag with everything I needed for my job search, journal club presentation, and pediatrician interviews, and headed home to work for the rest of the week. Without the added distractions of the lab, I’ve been quite productive the last couple of days. Although I’m now feeling the urge to clean up the piles of paper accumulating around the couch (the belly won’t let me scoot anywhere near our antique desk).

So what about others? Do you have a breaking point? How many piles of papers do you tolerate on your desk, and is your bench covered with full test tube racks, month-old petri plates, and used protein purification columns? Or do you clean everything off at the end of the day, leaving a blank slate to begin with the next morning?

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