Post provided by Lee Hsiang Liow.
We are very sad to say that Lee Hsiang Liow is leaving, having done an amazing job as Senior Editor on MEE since 2017. In this blog post, Lee Hsiang says goodbye to the journal and discusses the importance of limiting commitments in order to prevent work overload and maintain a healthy work-life balance…and learn as many of Bach’s cello suites as she can manage!
Each of us has 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. In that same amount of time allocated, we have to fit work we are paid to do and work we are not paid to do (teaching, advising, administration, grant-writing, research, reviewing, editorial work, mentoring). All this. On top of normal human “basal” tasks, like procuring food, eating, sleeping, and functioning as parents, children, friends and members of the larger society. I have felt, lately, that I have much less than twenty-four hours a day, but common sense tells me that cannot be true. Alternative hypothesis? I am fitting too much in twenty-four hours, perhaps like many of you/us.
I joined the MEE senior editorial team in 2017 and it has been very gratifying to see it grow in different ways, and to know that I have been a small part of that growth. I love working with the wonderful MEE editorial team and the excitement of being one of the first to see cutting-edge methods in submitted manuscripts. But two years of covid-19-related challenges, in addition to everything else also, means that I have stretched myself more thinly than is optimal. By choosing to continue my self-imposed academic marathon without the extra kilos that is the editorial work at MEE, I can save my figurative knees to avoid premature retirement from the marathon I love. Am I less of a scientist now that I am no longer an editor at MEE? Hell, no. I will have more capacity to focus on the research I love, the teaching that inspires me, and to be the member of my lab, family and society that I want to be.
I recently gave an informal non-science talk to early career scientists. They asked me a question that caught me by surprise. They asked: what are my personal plans for the next decade? If this had been a job interview, I might have spat out the “standard” answer, on the big grants I want to apply for and the high-impact papers I am planning to write. Blah, blah, blah, you know. But this question coming so sincerely from younger folks, threw me off. I told them, while I love my science work, I also felt like I have already lived at least half my life and that there are other things I want to do before the end. They drew it out of me and I don’t mind sharing this here: I want to learn as many of Bach’s cello suites as I can manage (and yes, that takes time and inner peace!). I also want to hang out with my sister, whom I have been missing for years. She lives and works about 10,000 km away from me.
Take care of yourselves, fellow scientists. You have your own “Bach Suites” to learn and people you want to share quality time with. Make time for those important things and your science will benefit, I believe. We need our own health and well-being in order to be reasonable human beings, good colleagues and the best scientists we aspire to be. As they say, sometimes less is more.