The Chemist: Work-Life Harmony

Hey everyone! I hope you enjoyed Soyo’s Macademics post last week! This week we decided to talk about “Work-Life Balance” and I think it’s very fitting because this is something I’ve REALLYYYY been trying to tackle lately. As I’ve probably said a million times now, grad school is a lot more than just classes. It’s research, teaching, classes, extra curriculars, family, friends, social life, etc. The list goes on really. It’s really hard to get everything done, so I’m going to share a few ways I'm attempting to crack this code. 

First things first, using the word “balance” I think is misleading in a way. I saw a speaker a week ago and she was talking about “living in harmony” and I think that’s more fitting of a phrase to describe it. I don’t think there’s ever a point where you have a work- life balance. I think it’s always going to be out of balance, you’re always going to have something to focus on at any given point in time, but the trick is being able to juggle them both without falling apart. Your effort probably is never going to be even, something is always more important. 

Okay, now that’s settled let’s get into how I do this. 

1. With a lot of help! 

I would be lying if I said I was a superhero and everything that life threw at me I was able to accomplish on my own. That’s just not true, I have help. My friends, family, and colleagues have all helped me accomplish some task I’ve had to do. Take yesterday, the chemistry department has this annual outreach event and I had to organize my group’s contribution. But get this, I teach lab on Wednesdays and I couldn’t be at two places at once. What ended up happening was that I organized everything, from getting the materials, answering emails from the coordinator, setting up the experiment, you name it. But the execution would not have happened without my lab mates and our group’s undergrads. Shoutout to them for all of their help yesterday. YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING ALONE! Keep that in mind when it seems like you have a lot on your plate. 

2. My calendar is my best friend. 

You all know I'm Type A by now, so naturally I had to add a practical way to achieve "work-life harmony". I use my calendar for everything! If it's not an event or obligation I have, then I use the "Reminders" app on my phone too. Keeping up with my calendar is a surefire way to make sure you don't miss anything. I have 3: one for teaching, one for NOBCChE, and one for my regular life - and yes, they are color coded. I set reminders for the events on there to make sure I don't miss it. The "Reminders" app works similar too. I use that for things like my grocery list or small tasks I have to complete. For me, it helps to "check off boxes" like my dad likes to say, You have to be organized in order to make sure you stay on schedule or even to make sure you don't overbook yourself. Even consider scheduling in time for self-care because that's important too. 

3. Choosing me first. 

My final way of living a harmonious life is by choosing me. My life can't be harmonious, if I'm not in harmony with myself. That means learning when to say "No", listening to your body to know when you need to take a break, and even unplugging from the world to regroup. For example, my scheduled Do Not Disturb from 10 pm - 7 am every day is the absolute best thing I've ever done. It allows me time away from my phone to get my mind right before I go to sleep. If you haven't tried that feature on your iPhone I strongly suggest it - you can even adjust the times your phones silences your notifications. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your job, or school in my case. Your mental health is the most important factor in achieving and maintaining this harmony. You don't ever want to do something that jeopardizes that. 

I hope these tips helped! Tweet me some way you maintain a "Work-Life Harmony". 

See you next week!

-The Chemist 

#MacScientist #BlackChemist #GradSchool #WorkLifeBalance #BlackWomeninSTEM