Thought of the Day

Nov 16 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Tribe of Science

If the information firehose and intellectual go-juice of a Society for Neuroscience week leaves you mentally exhausted, you don't actually work those 60 hours a week you claim to work. 

13 responses so far

  • Draino says:

    That's some true grit right there.

  • New PI says:

    I don't do SfN, but the conferences are a whole different ball game for introverts. I wilt fast.

  • Ola says:

    The exhausting thing for me is not the conference itself but the travel. No matter how hard I try, there's something different about reading a grant/paper in my own bed at 11pm, versus trying to do the same in an airplane seat at 8pm. Yes, both are technically after hours work, but on the plane it just feels harder.

    The other thing, especially at the big conferences, is all the walking. Normally I'm fairly active (ride a bike to work) but am mostly sedentary during the day stuck behind a desk. Just this week at the AHA, by pedometer I was averaging 13-15 miles a day. That and standing up at posters really takes a toll. My body has never been good at distinguishing between physical and mental exhaustion - if I'm tired I'm tired!

  • Selerax says:

    The difference is the walking. The physical toll of simply navigating through this immense thing.

    Reminder: the opposite ends of the San Diego convention center are served by different trolley stations!

  • eeke says:

    I don't do SfN either, it's too expensive. Conferences, if they are good, are intellectually energizing but mentally exhausting. There is a difference. Like New PI, I am an introvert and can't be around masses of people for extended periods without having some sort of melt-down. It's too much.

  • qaz says:

    I don't know why you say that. At SFN, I'm on intellectual high alert (adrenaline full throttle) from 7a to midnight. Assuming I did that every day 5 days/wk, it would be 85 hours/week. Assuming I did that every day 7 days/wk, it would be 119 hours/week. 60 hours/week is restful!

  • drugmonkey says:

    I'm on intellectual high alert (adrenaline full throttle) from 7a to midnight

    That seems hugely over exaggerated to me.

  • qaz says:

    Why? Most of my colleagues seem to be running the intellectual engine quite hot during SFN. For me, it's breakfast meetings at 7/7:30, posters by 8, dealing with posters, vendors, NIH, colleagues all day, lunch with colleagues, dinner with colleagues, between dinners and "socials" (both of which generally entail a lot of scientific discussions, many of them more heated than during the posters themselves) I didn't get to bed before midnight any of the days. Even if you assume that some portion of the time includes discussion of kids and family with colleagues I don't see more than once a year, some portion of my 60 hour work week includes reading DrugMonkey. šŸ™‚

    Note - I'm not complaining. I happen to like running intellectual full throttle for a few days. It's one of the reasons SFN is my favorite meeting. I find it invigorating, if exhausting.

  • Dave says:

    ...there's something different about watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta in my own bed at 11pm

    Corrected that for ya

  • Matt Palmatier says:

    It's the working and drinking consolidated into a period of time so dense that there's not much left for sleeping. Then again, I'm a grown child šŸ˜‰

  • clueless noob says:

    For me, working 4 days, traveling to SFN, attending the pre-conference mini-convention on Friday, and then having no downtime over the weekend is what does me in. By Monday afternoon I was cashed. Next time I'll have to bail some afternoon to hit the beach at Coronado...

  • Ewan says:

    This was more intense than most years; that's a good thing, because the cause was more-than-usual highly relevant science. Most years there's at least one session that can be blown off: not the case this year.

    Then add to that supporting students who were being harassed by Drumpflets, trying to hire a postdoc and all of the admin workload that doesn't stop just because I'm away from the lab. I left invigorated (well, up until the redeye back - that purely sucked) - but sure, some risk of mental exhaustion.

  • Another Assistant Prof says:

    This made me chuckle because, yes, I usually agree that work hours are wildly exaggerated... BUT, do not underestimate the challenges of being an introvert, as others have pointed out. I am social and enjoy being on point while that adrenaline is running and I'm actually surrounded by people, but I completely crash at the end of the day. Total shut down.

    So, yeah, it is different than sitting in front of a computer monitor. But I still agree that *most* people who think they work 60 hours/week don't actually work that much.

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