There is a talk I heard a couple of years ago, it was Marisa Meyer (current yahoo CEO) IT commencement address at Standford. I can now understand and fully appreciate when she said
“Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them. Working with smart people means that you will be challenged to do your best. You have to strive to keep up with them and as a result they will elevate your thinking. When there are better players around you, you get better.”
It is hard though to realize all the things one have to do to cope with people we admire. I have been so lucky to meet so many “great” people here. It was exactly what I asked the world when I left my country. Keeping up with them is another story. I realized that my work methodology is chaotic and that it urgently needs to be improved. I am trying to do that this year.
So the things that I have learned observing people who do “good research and still enjoy free time” are the following :
- Efficiency at work: no procrastination. Establish clear goals every day during work. This is a big problem for me. I tend to multitask too much. Although it has been said that women multitask a lot, I think this is not good for research. I know there are people have different methods to cope with work. There are people at the lab even on Sundays but I guess that if one aims to have a “life,” so no procrastination and efficiency is a must.
- Time management: Plan always the next action otherwise it will be hard to do everything you want to do…even the weekends.
- Team work: Finding a team to work. I think it is more productive and fun. If you code a lot, it would be great if you find a PhD partner who also likes coding , you can share work, discuss, motivate each other. If you plan to write two papers, one with your friend as first author and the other you as first author then even better.
- A good advisor: Advisors do not have time but comments from them are helpful. So in order to have a good feedback, you need to have results or hypothesis ready to show to your advisor. Their experience and help always are useful. I personally ask advice from people I admire.
- Love: try to love what you are doing as much as you can. This is hard sometimes…an idea that you believe can be great and fun can turn out to be the worst nightmare. I feel it has happened to me but oh well… love “bites” sometimes, we have to keep trying.