Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend Wisdom

Another week in the books, meaning it's time for another weekend. Nothing like a weekend for some reflection time.

I know I usually advocate a policy of negligence or relaxation for the weekend, but this weekend I feel inspired to try something different. Last week, I was right on the cusp of something on Friday, but I left the lab because that's what normal people do at 6PM on Friday, and it was already 8PM. I took the weekend off, and had a really tough time restarting on Monday.

This weekend, I'm going to spend a little bit of time reflecting on what I've been doing. I know it's a slippery slope when you start thinking about your work on the weekend, because then you start losing weekends. But every once in a while, it's OK, as long as you do it the right way.

Over this weekend, think about what you've been working on, what you'd like to be working on, and more of the big picture ideas. Don't get hung up on the details of your last paper or simulation or whatever. Try to think more about where your work is going, not what you've done already. And make sure that the direction you're headed is actually where you want to go.

I'm telling you to think about this this weekend because it's much easier to do it on the weekend. During the week (if your experience is anything like mine), you become so obsessed with solving the current problem, that you never have time to consider whether or not you should be solving this problem at all. The weekend is a perfect time for doing just this. So this Sunday morning (or Saturday if you prefer), wake up a little earlier, and spend an hour or two thinking about the big picture. If you like where you're headed, great! Go in on Monday and continue crushing your PhD. But if something seems off, you can spend some time thinking about what you can do next week to make it that much more productive.

Here's a song to play in the background on Sunday Morning. Actually, it's a whole CD. When I need to do work (and when I needed to do homework) I listened to a CD called ... Homework. It's by daft Punk, and it's from approximately 100 years ago, but I still really like it. The most known song is probably, Around the World, but in general it's a great CD to have playing in the background while you do some serious work. It doesn't intrude, but it's definitely there. Check it out:
Daft Punk - Homework