Many researchers or students want to be successful researchers in their field. For this they make many sacrifices such as working long hours at the lab every day from morning to the evening. This is important because honestly, success comes with hard work. But it is important to still keep a good life balance to stay healthy. In this blog post, I will talk about the importance of having good life and work habits for researchers.
First let me tell you a bit about my story. Since the start of my graduate studies, I have worked countless hours to improve myself. For example, during my master degree and Ph.D. studies, I would basically not take any rest during the whole year, and work maybe 12 hours every day. That has allowed me to be successful in my field, receive big grants during my studies, publish many papers, and then to land some good jobs in academia. Nowadays, as I have a familly, I cannot work as much as when I was a student, but I still work hard, and I am much more efficient that I was before due to the skills that I have gained. For example, I can write a paper much more quickly. I still work very late at night almost every day.
Health is important
Now, what I have learnt over the year is that working is not everything. Health is also very important. Working for long hours at the lab can eventually bring several health problems like pains in the wrist, neck, back problem, and eye problems. Luckily, I do not have any major problems, but it is something to be aware of, as problems will typically appear later down the road.
First, it is important to eat healty food.
Second, it is important to have a good posture while working. For example, it is worthy to find a good chair for working and to adjust the height of the table, screen and to have some appropriate mouse and keyboard, to be comfortable.
Third, it is important to avoid sitting for a too long time, and to sometimes rest your eyes. Several studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time may lead to various diseases. Thus, every hour, it is good to stand up and go for a walk for a few minutes, for example.
Fourth, it is equally important to do some exercise every week. Even doing a few hours of exercise every like running, swimming or playing badminton can make you feel better. I personally like to go run for 30 minutes to an hour every day.
Also, if you are tired or are always siting on a chair, you may consider working in a standing position. I have recently started to do this, and it really feels great. I even wonder why I have not done this before! It is very good for the posture and the back. Here is a picture of my setup at home:
Some people recommend to alternate between a standing and sitting position to avoid getting tired. But personally, I have no problem working for several hours in a standing position. If you dont have a support like mine on the picture, you could as well use some boxes to raise your computer higher.
Another good advice is that if you are working on a laptop, you should consider using an external screen or external keyboard. The reason is that if you put your laptop low, then the keyboard will be perhaps at an appropriate height but the screen will be too low and you will have to bend your neck. But on the other hand, if you put your laptop higher the screen will be at an appropriate height for your eyes but the keyboard will be too high. Thus, using an external screen or keyboard can solve this problem.
In this blog post, I have discussed about the importance of having some good life habits to be a healthy researcher and avoid health problems later in life. If you have some other suggestions related to this, please post them in the comment section below!