and answers to your burning questions
1. so, how’s the notebook?
fine, no one actually asked me this. but i just wanted to say how much i LOVE my newest acquisition from rhodia! each page contains an ‘intro’ section, a main ‘notes’ area, and a side column labeled ‘action’ [which i really use to write my own commentary/questions to ask]. the paper is super-smooth and there is no bleed-through with my pen of choice, and for me the ruling is just perfect — not too narrow nor too wide.
[just FYI, i bought this notebook myself — even though the above sounds like a paid product endorsement, it’s not!]
2. what are you doing to provide structure to your lab days/weeks?
first of all, i would consider myself to be still a lab novice! i am still not very fast at many things and really don’t do a lot of multitasking, because each task [loading a real-time RT-PCR plate, for example] takes a significant amount of brainpower for me. that said, for me a few specific things that have helped are:
✰ dedicated weekly planning time every monday morning, i arrive at work and pull out my planner [which has things like meetings, specifically-timed experiments, and appointments] and i set to filling out the giant weekly planning pad that lives on my desk. ‘fixed’ things [appointments, time-sensitive experiments, etc] go on there first, and then i sit and think about what else needs to be done over the course of the week. the rest of the hours then get filled in until i’m pretty much booked!
✰ specific daily goals + objectives
because of the planning above, every day i go in with a set of very specific goals + objectives for myself rather than an amorphous ‘day’ that i’m just supposed to fill up with doing lab stuff.
— 9 AM: number crunching / putting handwritten data into excel
— 10 AM: loading several real-time plates
— 11 AM: scanning a certain batch of slides
— 12 PM: lunch
— 12:30 PM: lab meeting
— 2:30 PM: experiment i had planned for that day
— 4:30 PM: enter data
— 5:15 PM: leave!
i physically check off each task on the calendar as i get it done — so satisfying 🙂
✰ refusing to rush one danger of the daily goals/objectives is that i may get behind and then feel like rushing through things. for me, this is a recipe for a) a million mistakes b) terrible frustration c) subpar work d) an overall unpleasant experience. since realizing this [and realizing that really, i have enough time! after all, only a small portion of the day’s tasks are actually ‘fixed’/mandatory], i have been much better about slowing down and doing things more carefully. angeliki actually wrote a post on this last night!
somewhat paradoxical is the fact that i’ve noticed the day going by much faster overall when i don’t rush! interesting. like angeliki, this is still a work in progress, but i think i am getting there!
✰ breaking up scary projects
i tend to get intimidated by bigger projects, which leads to a lot of stress [and sometimes procrastination, which makes things worse!]. it’s similar to all of the above tips, but what tends to work for me is breaking things down into steps and creating a concrete schedule for when i will get each step done.
i did this with my grants last year, with my peds boards prep [although i used a calendar to create a separate study schedule for that], and i often do it with bigger powerpoint presentations [i actually did a whole post on my method for powerpoint prep].
3. what are you using to study spanish?
someone asked yesterday, and i realized i had mentioned it once but wasn’t too clear on it from that point out. i’m using rosetta stone. i can’t speak to its effectiveness at this point, but hey — i’m actually motivated to do it and it’s at least borderline fun. sometimes i find that the pace moves a bit too slowly for me, but this may be because i’m still so early in the program.
i try to practice with josh a little at dinnertime [he speaks a good amount of spanish] but i know i will eventually need more real-life interaction to progress. for now, though, i’m learning basic words and grammar and i have to believe that something is better than nothing!
4. have you and josh picked out names yet?
yes — for a BOY! we had 3 that i really liked, actually. but girls’ names i’m completely stuck on right now. i need to start poring over swistle [my favorite baby name blog] and our naming book!
to be honest, i still haven’t come to grips with the whole ‘girl’ thing yet! but that doesn’t mean i haven’t already been looking at girly things. a little bit.
5. where’s that hypothalamic amenorrhea post!?
coming! i mean, i haven’t written it yet, but i will. i want it to be good [and scientifically based] though, so i need to wait until i have a nice chunk of weekend time free. i promise it will be up eventually, though.
workout: 3.1 mile run, 9:49/mi
dinner chili leftovers. and josh made it home this time!
español + endo: check + check. one more day and i’m done with thyroid!