• Question: Does work sometimes get on top of your free time?

    Asked by Lissie-1904 on 13 Nov 2023.
    • Photo: Amina Moss

      Amina Moss answered on 13 Nov 2023:

      Yes, a lot of time. Proper time management is key, of course, but if you do something that you love, it won’t feel like work (at least not always). So here are some tips to (hopefully) help:

      1. Set short work periods (like 25 minutes) followed by a YouTube break to relax and recharge.
      2. Create a “sea-rious” to-do list: Do the most important tasks, first.
      3. Share tasks with colleagues: Teamwork can help you get things done faster and more efficiently.
      4. A good night’s sleep is IMPORTANT for productivity and creativity.

    • Photo: James Bron

      James Bron answered on 13 Nov 2023:

      Free time? we’re allowed free time? nobody told me…

      Sadly yes, there is a lot of work to be done and often for scientists the job can not easily be contained between the traditional (for some…) work hours of 09.00 -17.00. This is especially true for scientists who are also teachers and need to prepare classes for students or mark work, since these activities often sit on top of their research. Sometimes, when samples or observations must be taken at particular times or dates for an experiment, this may also eat into free time, although hopefully one can get that time back later.

    • Photo: Karen Edwards

      Karen Edwards answered on 13 Nov 2023:

      It does, but not very often. Most of my work is desk-based and my employer (the Environment Agency) is really good about ensuring we have a good work/life balance. But of course, some times work is busier than others – so we do have a flexi- system where we keep track of hours worked and can take off early on some days as well.

    • Photo: Anton Edwards

      Anton Edwards answered on 13 Nov 2023: last edited 13 Nov 2023 1:06 pm

      I have been fortunate to enjoy most of my work, and to get paid for it. So, very often I have felt like I am paid to do my hobbies. So work was easily merged with free time. Part of my work was writing computer programmes, but I like that so did it in free time because it felt like fun. Part of my work was writing reports and articles, but I like writing when I have something to say, so did that too in my free time.

      And if you are really interested in something, you don’t care when or how you do it. I know people who don’t care if they are at work or free – they just keep doing what they are keen about.

    • Photo: Cristina Steliana Mihailovici

      Cristina Steliana Mihailovici answered on 13 Nov 2023:

      Yes, in many occasions.

    • Photo: Clare Johnson

      Clare Johnson answered on 13 Nov 2023:

      It can do if you let it! There’s always more work than there is work-time and sometimes I do work in an evening or weekend e.g. during fieldwork. However, I firmly think that you shouldn’t have to do this regularly. I have a health condition that limits my energy and know lots and lots of successful scientists who don’t regularly work evenings or weekends.

    • Photo: Victoria Ashley-Wheeler

      Victoria Ashley-Wheeler answered on 13 Nov 2023:

      Yes, but I’m very aware that PhDs are awful for work/life balance so I make a point of keeping it and only breaking it when absolutely necessary. Once I’ve switched off in the evening that’s it, and I keep my weekends free from work unless there is a deadline or something really interesting I want to look at for a bit.

    • Photo: Tanya Riley

      Tanya Riley answered on 14 Nov 2023:

      Sometimes, not as much as other jobs I have had but a well managed to do list is your best friend

    • Photo: Anuschka Miller

      Anuschka Miller answered on 14 Nov 2023:

      Of course it does, but to be honest I can express myself more individually through my work than my home life. Work is a really important and enjoyable part of my life that I’d miss if I didn’t have it. I am lucky in that I love my team and my job. And I believe in what I do.

    • Photo: Benedikte Ranum

      Benedikte Ranum answered on 14 Nov 2023:

      Yes, quite often. Most of the time, though, that’s been through my own choice – when I’ve really wanted to do a thorough job, or I’ve been enjoying my task and didn’t want to quit until it was done. I do think it’s important to focus on other things than work and to protect your free time, though – the stuff you do in your free time can actually make you better at your work.

    • Photo: Camilla Cassidy

      Camilla Cassidy answered on 14 Nov 2023:

      My work never gets in the way of my free time (apart from when I ponder things in my brain while I’m doing the washing up). When I did research scientist work at a university I found that yes, I often was expected to work long hours into the evening. This is partly why I changed jobs to work for a company in a salaried role, rather than a research role. I find it a lot easier to push back on requests or the expectation to work long hours when I have managers, and supervisors who have worked to estimate how long each task should take. Work life balance is very important to me, even though I love my work, because I wouldn’t do it for free, so it is important to look our for yourself and your own health. Working flexibly means I’m able to do this in the daytime, too, taking walks at lunchtime and spending time with my pets.

    • Photo: Mimi Asogwa

      Mimi Asogwa answered on 14 Nov 2023:

      During the summer season which is our busy pereiod, I have to work long hours (9 – 7pm) because samples have travelled a long distance to get to the Lab. That means that I miss out on lovely walks and enjoying the hot summer weather.
      During my PhD, I stayed long hours in the Lab and sometimes worked at the weekends to stay on top of my research or to get through a deadline.

    • Photo: Stephanie Horn

      Stephanie Horn answered on 16 Nov 2023:

      Yes. I guess that’s normal for most jobs. I think it’s really important to manage my time effectively so I can spend my free time with the people I love. It can be hard when there are important deadlines, and although I enjoy my work, it’s important to relax and enjoy time away from work.

    • Photo: Ambre Chapuis

      Ambre Chapuis answered on 20 Nov 2023:

      It is very hard to switch off from work. So even if I try to leave work at reasonable hours (physically), it is hard to switch my brain off and stop thinking about the outcome of my experiment or what other experiment you going to do depending on the different outcomes of the first one …..

    • Photo: Jake Norton

      Jake Norton answered on 21 Nov 2023:

      Yes and no….I try to avoid this at all costs because you need a healthy work/life balance.

      Sometimes it just can’t be avoided and I will have to work past half 5 into the evening. However I will ALWAYS take 2 days off a week. Yes I LOVE my work, but I also love my free time, travelling, spending time with friends, watching Leicester win the league ect ect…..

      I don’t think it is sustainable to be overworking constantly and I think in academia, this work/life balance thing has gone out the window a little.

      That being said, as a previous responded said, it is SO hard to switch off sometimes and quite often your brain is always partly on your research!

    • Photo: Clemence Fraslin

      Clemence Fraslin answered on 21 Nov 2023:

      Yes, but I’m working on it.
      I think it was worst during my PhD because you are expected to suffer and to live for science (and in France I was sometimes doing crazy hours, from 8.30am to 8.30pm!).
      Since I moved to Scotland it has been easier (mainly because most of my colleagues leave around 4.30/5pm and I’m trying to never get the bus after 7.30pm). What helps is having other commitment to force me to leave early (my dance classes are around 6.30/7pm so I need to leave in time to go there).
      But when I’m very busy with an important deadline I sometimes work on weekends. I think it’s ok as long as it’s not every weekends! (and sometimes I need to work only a few hours to free my mind and reduce the stress otherwise I know I won’t get much sleep)
      Also sometimes something get stuck on my mind (usually when I have a computer problem, and I think about it at random time until I find a solution (usually in the middle of the night or of a movie).