Tag Archives: emails

“Face to face”

Sometimes your chair can be just too comfortable

It can be all too easy to sit in front of a computer all day, allowing yourself to be sucked in by a vortex of emails, playing to the tune of other people’s agendas, and from which it is difficult to escape as work fatigue sets in. We become hypnotised by the screen and frozen to our chairs.

Or if you are a scientist, you might feel compelled to sit all morning at the bench reading agar plates, without any hope of reprieve…

So one of my resolutions for 2018 is more face to face time. Less time in front of a screen and more time talking to people, building relationships, and breaking down barriers. By this I don’t mean more formal meetings, just more informal chats, and not necessarily about work!

Sure, there will always be periods where I need to be in front of a computer:- reading articles, reviewing or writing laboratory policy, checking emails, analysing data, etc. But I want to ensure that this is the minority of my working day, not the majority.

The same applies if you are working at a bench. If you have a mountain of culture plates to read, or samples to set up, then the risk of boredom and consequent errors is a genuine one. Make sure such work is punctuated by occasional wandering and chats to your colleagues. Discuss possible ways to make the laboratory process more efficient, or just talk about what you got up to at the weekend! And never, ever feel compelled to stay at your bench just because your boss is sitting in the office nearby. This is not school anymore!

Being an introvert, I am not a natural conversationalist, but this year I am going to force myself out of my comfort zone. Disagreements with colleagues, which are inevitable from time to time,  are so much easier to navigate through if you have a good working relationship with them.

To quote the often used cliche. “Nobody has ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office/at the bench.‘”

But it’s absolutely true.

So in 2018 I will endeavour to seek more face to face time, assuming I can find somebody who is not busy sending emails or reading plates…



“The Addicted Microbiologist”

Up until recently I used to check my work emails on my I-phone every 20-30 minutes throughout the evening, sitting at home on the couch.

Not only evenings, but weekends and holidays as well. It was all a bit sad really.

It wasn’t for any particular reason, it was more like an automatic reflex. And if I went a prolonged period without checking them, I started to get a bit edgy and irritable…

I was addicted.

I have always had an addictive personality, and I have been addicted to many different things throughout my life. But I never thought I would be addicted to work emails however.

Wow, I am getting old…

So on realising I had a problem, I decided to do something about it.

About 6 months ago, I went cold turkey.

I didn’t just switch the work emails off from my smartphone, I completely uninstalled the server, so as to resist temptation.

So now when I leave the laboratory I don’t check my emails again until I am back in the laboratory.

And sure enough,  the sky hasn’t fallen. The emails sit there quite happily, waiting patiently for me to look at them. And when I do get round to looking at them the next (working) day, there is a little pile of them which I can then deal with somewhat ruthlessly, and certainly much quicker than answering them “individually” at periodic intervals.

Apart from addiction there is another good reason for not checking emails out of normal working hours. The majority of incoming emails are from people looking for something, a bit of your time, a bit of your expertise, a bit of your life…

Follow your own agenda, not other people’s.

March to the beat of your own drum…

I have five children, and a sixth on the way. I now have better things to do in the evening, like changing nappies!

But checking work emails at home is now a thing of a past. Trust me, there is not much that cannot wait in the world of microbiology…