I’ve got a few minutes before I head to this event at the Wellcome Trust, and I can’t be bothered to stare at the paper i’ve been working on all day any longer. On this front things have been great lately, but also kind of strange. I’m writing this post mostly out of boredom, but also because I think it is fun sometimes to share the lifestyles that are familiar to most academics. Since starting my post-doc at UCL some ~2 years ago, i’ve been working in a massively parallel mode. This means I spent a long time coding experiments, then a long time running them, then a long time analyzing, and now finally a very long time writing them all up. The upshot is that this approach results in a lot of synergy; write a function for one experiment and it mostly works for all the rest. Get a nice bit of story telling going in one paper, and it mostly generalizes. And so on. The down shot is you spend a hell of a lot of time doing the same thing every day, and this can get a bit repetitive. Currently I’ve got 5 papers submitted or in revision, and another 2 due to be submitted this summer or fall. When expanding to include my collaborations – something UCL is truly awesome for generating – I’m sitting on about 10-12 papers all nearing or in submission. What this means is that right now I am effectively a writing machine, powered by self-recrimination, caffeine, and chocolate. When i’m not writing, i’m thinking or talking about it. Pretty much everything I do in some way serves the purpose of either getting words on paper, editing them, or getting new words in my mind. Sometimes I start getting a little loopy; the clusterfuck of insanity that is the 2016 political arena certainly doesn’t help.
What this means is that basically, I don’t have very much time to do things I love like blogging and generating engaging content on social media. Many of you are probably pretty sick of my political posts by now, but the truth is I don’t have time for much else. Most of my digital ‘free time’ occurs during the commute, bathroom breaks, meals, or other random downtime. I thought it would be funny to try and actually give my readers a feeling for how a typical day goes for me, so here goes:
~8am – wake up – I’m a slave to wake/sleep routines so I wake up at 8 regardless what I did the day before and without an alarm. Yay, superchiasmatic nucleus! Usually I wake up thinking about whatever I was writing the day before.
9am – breakfast (cottage cheese or a low-carb avocado smoothie) and espresso. Despair over the latest political news. Surf my twitter neuroscience list. Catch up on emails and think about what I need to do for the day.
10:00 am – leave house, tweet from tube, read RSS, start booting up the old brain and thinking what I should write about today
10:30am – arrive at work. Greet colleagues, skim twitter and facebook, post a link or two. Manage WTCN twitter account if any new events/pubs. Hit first pomodoro.
10:30 – 12:30 – least productive part of the day. Mess around with a random analysis, answer emails, procrastinate writing. Look at the current paper and quickly look away. Drink tea and fiddle with my phone. Try to stay off social media, sometimes fail. Skim a paper or three.
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch with my wife and colleague Francesca. Usually she tells me all the awesome stuff she’s done so far, and I complain about not working productively yet. We discuss papers or I surf twitter.
1:30 – 3:00 on a good day, now some real writing begins. On a bad day, stare at the page, read more papers, tweet too much, curse my brain. Pace around the WTCN thinking about the paper. Sometimes live tweet a paper if desperate.
3:00 dark chocolate break and walk around the park with Francesca. This is essential. We talk about whatever has been plaguing us, walk around Russell Square, and have some really excellent theoretical discussions while I scarf down too much dark chocolate. Leave me alone, we’re all addicted to something.
4:30 – 8:00 – golden time. Everyone leaves the office, so Francesca and I take over a meeting room and I drink a double espresso. We story board/mind map whatever we’ve been struggling with. Serious writing happens. I get into flow mode and jam our a few paragraphs, edit them manically, struggle through flights of fancy and dismay. Usually this is were the good work really happens.
8:00 dinner, review writing, start tweeting. Head home and read more political news. Read the day’s writing on my phone from the tube. Surf twitter until 12. Try not to think about the paper. Fall asleep reading the news/reddit.
Wake up thinking about the paper.
On Tuesday and Thursdays I go climbing from 8-10. On Saturdays I go to the Jolly Butchers to drink awesome craft ales and do some shopping in Stoke Newington. These are essential for sanity!