Wednesday 10 April 2013

Work life balance

A full house of us has just poured out of a lecture by a certain forensic pathologist whose name is frequently mentioned in the RTE news.  Sorry to be so coy but before the talk we were enjoined to switch off our mobiles (fairy nuff) but also cautioned not to use any recording equipment.  So it may be that the Institute in which I work was trying to protect our guest from being caught bunking off from her gruesome-but-necessary work to give a lecture in the Sunny South East.

I'll reflect on one interesting response to a post-talk question:  "How do you separate from your work when you go home to your family at night."  The FP first said that, to remain sane, you have to leave the blunt trauma and blood spatter behind and that she had been successful in doing this both earlier in her career as a reg'lar medical pathologist and in her current role where the 'patient' is no longer breathing.  A certain macabre humour is often helpful in achieving the necessary distance.  The FP went on to say that, nevertheless, you can't stop thinking about the case in hand, and that a key insight (of course: it's the graze on both knees!) had often come to her when she was at home.

That certainly resonated with me.  One of the rewarding things about using computer programs to solve biological puzzles is that the programs themselves are puzzles and often-and-often the programs don't work.  If they don't work then no amount of scrutiny, debugging or check-pointing seems to be able to reveal the glitch.  But the answer will come unannounced and seemingly without effort later - often after a night's sleep.  In the days when I was programming for Ireland, I was also doing a 25km round trip commute on my bicycle every day.  I found that The Answer often came to me while cycling and I thought at the time it was because, to stay alive while cycling in Dublin, I was alert.  To be alert, blood supply to brain was increased; certainly heart rate was up from the desperate activity of my legs.  Some of this coursing oxygen-and-glucose was clearly helping the creative connexions.

So don't leave everything behind when you leave work; you may save yourself days at the coal-face.

1 comment:

  1. thats where I've been going wrong - I should cycle the 72 mile round trip daily and I'd be more effective and healthy!note to self;)