A happy Christmas, new year and holiday season to all readers. This blog will resume posting on Friday 2 January 2009.
In the meantime, I recommend the article ‘Burnout’, by Frank Gannon, published in the December issue of EMBO Reports (9, 1157; 2008). From the article:
Even when we do step out of our professional world, we do not always allow our minds to follow. As we sit in the theatre, are we secretly churning over a work-related problem at the back of our heads? Similarly, are we fully taking part in family activities or are we thinking in parallel about the next grant proposal or presentation? An honest answer would be that sometimes we fail to close our minds to work when we leave the building. Conversely, some of our brightest insights can come while stuck in traffic, walking the dog or sitting through a boring theatrical performance. But it does mean that we risk our work consuming our lives.
It is important to establish a work–life balance that allows us to pursue other interests and activities, and to spend time with our families. If nothing else helps, we might seriously consider changing jobs—a new start can be truly reinvigorating as it removes one from the inevitability of tomorrow, colleagues who have only predictable advice to offer, the chaos of unread papers, un-filed documents and un-done tasks that have been piling up. Of course, changing jobs is a rather drastic solution and not always possible or desired. But, a sabbatical can often achieve the same goal and allow us to return fresh to a job we still want to love. What we should avoid, however, is analysing our situation and continuing down the same track, even if we recognize ourselves to be burnt out.
Further science-related blog reading and online discussion can be enjoyed at: