This was recently posted to the Naturejobs blog: Work/life balance: Take a break.
The first paragraph really bothers me.
Is there a defined time and a place for science? Does science only happen at work and then you switch off when you leave the lab for the day? I don’t believe that for a second, and the majority of you will agree with me. There isn’t a distinct work/life balance for an academic researcher; science is a part of our lives, our passion for it defines who we are and we believe that we are honoured to have a career that allows us to feed our inquisitive nature and the need to solve problems.
This is a real problem in science I think. This is what leads to burnout and women leaving science and the attitude of superiority to other fields where work-life balance is a thing. There should not be anything honorable about spending your life so focused on one task you miss out on life. And while this is definitely a catchy introduction to an article, the next paragraph continues to accept this as ok and even ideal!!
There is no defined line between work and life for a scientist. Instead it is a series of intensities. Ranging from a 14 hour day working non-stop in the lab, to meeting with other academics and talking science, to chatting to someone at a party who asks what you do for a job, to discussing your day with your significant other, to total preoccupation with something else entirely.
I guess this article is frustrating because I find it reinforcing the idea that it is necessary to work around the clock, even as it discusses taking breaks. It seems like an article on work/life balance might address the fact that it is unrealistic to focus on your science 24/7. Maybe I’m just being idealistic and dreaming of a time where I could have it all. Its especially frustrating that this is absolutely the way science works. #academicguilt is an excellent example of this.
Article summary: You should be working all the time. But you should make time for yourself, whatever that means for you. Make breaks happen, but make sure you get in your hours.