The Sassy Scientist – Chill Pill Refill

The Sassy Scientist – Chill Pill Refill

Angela is one to stress out just a wee bit every time a conference is right around the corner. It’s almost like she consistently doesn’t prepare in time. Ever so slightly concerned, her office mate asks:

How last minute is too last minute when preparing for a conference?

Dear Angela,

Just take a breather and come down from your academic productivity high! It’s an untenable situation you’re in. You can’t keep stressing yourself out by not taking time in advance, plan and concoct a presentation. In this process you’re also stressing out everyone around you. Your friends, partner(s), office mates and/or colleagues. They’re having a meltdown too. On your behalf nonetheless. How selfish are you? Are you going to be able and keep this up throughout your scholarly career? I sincerely doubt it. This endless cycle of continual stress positions is a burnout waiting to happen. Although most of us in academia have probably been teetering on this particular brink for the longest of time; it’s roughly equivalent to our chosen career path. Academia is full of deadlines, variable amounts of pressure throughout the year and recurring disappointments/setbacks. If you’re not careful from the get-go, you’ll end up a bag of tears. So, it’s good to hang back a little every once in a while, stop drinking the academia Kool-Aid™, pop a chill pill and take a zip of the camomile tea your colleagues have been trying to get you hooked on. Just try and take advantage of the benefits of academic employment; being able to make your own schedule, and the presence of smart yet caring people around you, means you have a great chance to enjoy your life (and your surroundings). Especially in these (partly) post-COVID times (and unfortunately in these pre-WWIII times). It’s never too late to recognize you’re one of the lucky ones, and you should take notice of this fact.

Now on the topic of actually preparing for a conference; there is no such thing as acting too last minute. I mean, your presentation in any way or form is on a topic you’re working on, right? Constantly. So there’s no need to prepare much. You can take it up straight to the edge. My preference would be to just finish your talk right in the room/hall/auditorium where you’re speaking later that session. Always using the excuse that you’ve got the presentation on your laptop and you couldn’t get it to work otherwise. Classic! That way, you’re prime for inputting the latest figures from the latest papers (or even from the presentation you saw a couple of minutes ago). That way, you’ve got the presentation word-4-word etched into your mind as you’re writing it right there and then. That way, there’s no need to stress as you can be certain that your presentation will not be obsolete. A brilliant stratagem if you ask me.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written at the very last minute. One might say, a little too last minute…

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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