For many, postdoctoral life coincides with taking on new personal responsibilities that may include starting a family, buying a house, or paying off student loans. A postdoctoral position is typically a stepping stone to a future tenure track faculty position. While it may seem an extension of a PhD graduate regime, the challenge lies in managing the additional professional responsibilities along with the personal ones.
If you are a new postdoc, you may feel the need to prove your worth and build your reputation. As you progress towards being a senior postdoc, you may feel the pressures of funding and career progression looming over you. Further, the limited research funding in most countries, may stretch your postdoc life by several years until you publish adequate number of articles and receive your own grants, before getting the coveted faculty position.
To keep a positive and healthy outlook over the years as a postdoc, it is important to maintain a good work-life balance. Of course, this would have a different meaning for every person. It is therefore important that you first identify what your own expectations are and understand what you are ready to compromise on.
If you are in a soccer team, for instance, and need to attend practice sessions, think about whether are you okay with moving them to late evenings or if needed, quit the team? If you are married to another postdoc with an equally hectic schedule, are you willing to limit the time spent together to dinner time on weekdays, or would you both like to ensure that you do not work on weekends? If you have kids, are you ready to hire a nanny or send your kids to daycare while you are in the lab? Are you ready to work around your kids’ football matches or music classes? Once you understand what your goals and objectives are, what you are ready to compromise on, and what the right work-life balance for you is, you will be in a better position to work towards it.