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Thread: Current Student Hangout/Question Thread

  1. #31
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    I think that the main point is if you're already doing (your own) research or not. If you're simply studying, the marginal contribution of one hour is a decreasing function of the total time spent. During the darkest weeks of December, I pulled around 80hrs/week. However, I don't think I have been really more efficient that when I was doing my standard 60hrs.

    I can understand that, instead, if you're doing research, the time spent doing that is important and the threshold is way higher.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catguy View Post
    I think that the main point is if you're already doing (your own) research or not. If you're simply studying, the marginal contribution of one hour is a decreasing function of the total time spent. During the darkest weeks of December, I pulled around 80hrs/week. However, I don't think I have been really more efficient that when I was doing my standard 60hrs.

    I can understand that, instead, if you're doing research, the time spent doing that is important and the threshold is way higher.
    I think I understand what you're saying here. One of my friends (currently in his 3rd) told me something similar. He said if I could get in 4-5 of high quality work done (and this is high-quality - no distractions, no reddit, no music, no emails etc.), then he simply calls it a day. According to him - the 6th hour and beyond are just ways to console yourself that you are in the office and doing something. So, once he reaches his pre-defined goals, he simply packs up and goes to the gym or watches a movie.

    Of course, he's in his third year and has no 'proof' to show that what he does is the right thing, but it does make some sense if you start thinking that the brain has the capacity to just so much. Beyond a certain point, it simply becomes inefficient to carry on working for 11 hours - especially where mental faculties are involved.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by artha View Post
    I think I understand what you're saying here. One of my friends (currently in his 3rd) told me something similar. He said if I could get in 4-5 of high quality work done (and this is high-quality - no distractions, no reddit, no music, no emails etc.), then he simply calls it a day. According to him - the 6th hour and beyond are just ways to console yourself that you are in the office and doing something. So, once he reaches his pre-defined goals, he simply packs up and goes to the gym or watches a movie.

    Of course, he's in his third year and has no 'proof' to show that what he does is the right thing, but it does make some sense if you start thinking that the brain has the capacity to just so much. Beyond a certain point, it simply becomes inefficient to carry on working for 11 hours - especially where mental faculties are involved.
    I agree with your friend. I am in third year and only read what is relevant to my research project. I blundered around a lot in first two years, and there was a lot to read too, but now I work everyday on predefined not-so-ambitious targets (e.g. write 2 pages on the relationship between X and Y OR figure out the method to analyze X question). That usually works.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by myndfood View Post
    I seem to recall a (rather heated) conversation along this line a year or so ago here, but in one of my interviews yesterday, a prof said something that I think really gets at the heart of this whole discussion. He said, "At this level, everyone is smart. Intelligence isn't really a differentiator any more. The difference between those who are mediocre and very successful is simple: it's whether you have good ideas (or can ask interesting questions), and how hard you work."

    He went on to say that the second part of that (how hard you work) can be VERY difficult--because the feedback loop has a very, very long cycle. It's unlike the corporate world where you have pressure from your boss to get something done by (tomorrow, tonight, Friday...), or (in consulting) you have a slide deck to present (that slide deck represents "work product" that is complete), or you have some physical product/service that you deliver. In academia, it takes a year, or two (or longer) to really get to a "win".

    I mention this because if you're looking at this from the perspective of the number of hours it takes to be successful, I have a suspicion that you could lull yourself into a comfortable work cycle that's far less than what some describe here, and feel OK about it--but when you get to the end of that lengthy feedback cycle, find yourself unprepared for the market.

    Of course, this is all second-hand advice, so take it for what it's worth!

    Very useful advice!

    I am 2nd year, finance. My school has packed too many finance courses this semester (we were wandering into other departments the previous one, I have no idea why)

    Here's an awesome article (recommended by my Prof) William Shockley on what makes a person who publishes a lot of papers (and the superstar researcher system) | Dynamic Ecology

  5. #35
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    I find this topic of work productivity quite interesting, given that I have this discussion with my colleagues about increasing our research output and decreasing our administrative involvements. I work at a research center, and we are always torn between trying to dedicate more time to running events, and trying to minimize the events and concentrate on research. The reality is you can have both if you have an administrative team that will help take care of the non-academic work. But this begs a question, are we too focused on our research in academia to the extent that we consider teaching an administrative role that we need to cut down on as much as possible? I do not teach, but I can see this totally happening where faculty members are trying to establish their academic presence, especially in the first 7 years after graduation, and having little to no interest in teaching. I think if our academic system has resulted in us having this type of outlook, then we have some serious work to do in order to change how faculty members are being evaluated, promoted and tenured. Looking forward to your thoughts....

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