I am not very good at following the rules… I never have been. I was much the same at school, at university and every other organisation I have been involved with.
And I am not very good at being told when I should be working, when I should take my breaks, when I should be here or there.
I ended up in trouble in school quite a few times because of this!
Nowadays I start work at anytime between 7am and 9am in the morning, depending on what is happening at home, and how much insomnia I had the night before. I am very much a morning person, so 90% of my productive work for the day usually happens before lunchtime. I don’t really trust myself with anything too complex as the afternoon progresses, and I leave all menial tasks until late in the afternoon, when I am good for nothing else..
Because my concentration span is relatively short I tend to take multiple breaks throughout the day. Sometimes my breaks are longer than my work periods! I usually work hard when I am working, and occasionally I even get myself into “the zone”… I give myself a specific task to complete in a certain timeframe (e.g. do presentation A, write letter B, sort out blood cultures X, Y & Z). I keep my emails switched completely off when I am doing specific tasks like this.
I finish up (in the lab) sometime between 3.30 & 5 pm. After the children go to bed in the evening I usually sit down for 20-30 minutes and clear/sort my emails. People seem to like sending emails between 5 and 6pm so there is usually a little cluster waiting for me… I adhere to a “Zero Inbox” policy.
Most of my strategic thinking for the microbiology laboratory happens whilst driving to or from work, or in the middle of the night! This type of work needs an absolute minimum of interference.
I am very productivity focused as opposed to hours focused. I make no apologies whatsoever for the time I spend or don’t spend in the office/lab.
I am very fortunate in that my role allows me to be hyper-flexible with regards to work hours. I am extremely grateful for this. It may even partially explain the career path I have taken. But I am also aware that not everyone that works in the laboratory setting has this kind of freedom.
I am a strong proponent of flexible working hours for all laboratory staff, wherever the system can allow it. Any opportunity for flexible start and finish times, flexible breaks or off-site work should be both encouraged and embraced.
We are no longer at school…