A few years ago, get a life phd asked readers to think about what their ideal day would look like.
My ideal work day definitely does NOT include teaching or ANY emails from students. It does, however, include research and friends.
I was at this conference when I realized I was having my ideal work day. No students. No student emails. I talked to colleagues about research: theirs, mine. I got inspired to learn about a new statistical technique.
I saw good friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I ate good food. I had time for a nap in the middle.
I met a new research collaborator and we talked about what research we do and could share.
I could choose what was most interesting to go hear talks about. Setting my own schedule is awesome.
That is an ideal work day.
I think mine would start off with me checking my email to find a desk accept. :) Or an R&R from a top 2 journal. Follow it up with a request to do something relatively trivial using my expertise for a large sum of money (like reading a proposal or giving a discussion).
These ideal day exercises aren’t so useful to me because my fantasy scenarios mainly depend on things that are outside of my control (last week was not an ideal week– the summer started with two conference rejections and a journal rejection, also our unscoopable paper that coauthor sat on for two years got scooped), and because I’m pretty happy with my life as it is and trying to optimize instead of satisfice just makes me grumpy. It may not be a perfect life, but spending time and mental energy trying to make it better tends to make it worse and take time and energy away from things that actually help my life improve. I remember the morning that I first heard about the willpower research on only being able to make a limited number of decisions each day, I was completely useless because I’d second guess making any decision instead of just making it, thus adding to my mental load.
Now, if I were miserable or unhappy, then the amount of time thinking about what makes me happy would be totally worth it. A little bit of introspection might be able to make big short-term changes. Fortunately for me, that’s not where I am right now (rejections aside). We will see what the future brings.
What’s your ideal work day?