All the chatter and clutter makes the mind wander

I came across this article on a friend’s Facebook page.  It gave a convincing argument as to why the workplace is not the best place to work efficiently.  I sometimes think I should start going to the lab after 5pm and do a graveyard shift.  All the more so when I need to do a lot of writing and thinking.  For days when I have to do experiments, it makes sense to come to the lab during office hours since most of the lab technicians and my P.I.* are there and will be available if ever I need stuff or some quick advice.  I remember my early days in the lab when I had to learn techniques from a senior technician who comes in at 530am!  Of course, I have to follow his schedule and would come in the lab at 6 or 7am at the latest to do experiments with him.  Now that I am trying to figure out my next steps in my thesis (and preparing for a thesis committee meeting), as well as writing up another paper, I need long stretches of time just by myself to be able to think things through.  Doing these “cerebral” tasks in the lab at regular hours is almost close to impossible, with all the chatter that goes in and out of where I sit.  I feel like I don’t get anything done, because of all the interruptions that come through out the day.

There’s my lab roommate, who is quite a chatter box.  I don’t mind chatting with her once in a while, but sometimes I think I could have an extra two hours in a day if I just stop listening or talking to her.  Also, because of her very personable character, she is a confidant of several people in the lab, and they come to our lab to talk to her about their personal (and even work-related) qualms.  Through the years, I have learned to ignore the chitter-chatter and have managed to keep the sound of their voices to a certain decibel.  However, I haven’t worked out a way to mute their boisterous laughter.  And it’s really contagious that my mind starts to wander and I end up joining the conversation.

There is also this huge clutter of paper on my desk that needs attending.  I have gone through some of the pile, and there were papers there that date back to 2007!  My lab notebooks also have several “data holes” in them that needs updating.  I have the data in electronic form, but they are usually summarized and sometimes do not tell me anything about the different experimental conditions I used, among others.  I think if I go through the pile, I will uncover experiments I thought I didn’t do, but actually did.  I think I will need a full day to just sort out the stuff, with no interruptions whatsoever.  I cannot do that on a regular work day.

Right now, I am writing this blog entry in the middle of writing my outline for my thesis committee meeting.  There’s just a lot of chatter going on about a Friday lunch out, and the broken fridge, and the rotation student, the list goes on and on.  As hard as I try, my mind is running crazy and it’s doing a lot of zig-zagging, eventually getting to writing this “musing.”  Maybe I should really consider doing that graveyard shift.

*Principal Investigator.

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