Time management for mid-career scientists, and why it's always a work-in-progress.

Trying to achieve balance in your personal and professional lives is misguided, four researchers tell Julie Gould in the third episode of Muddle of the Middle, a six-part podcast series about the mid-career stage in science.

Jen Heemstra, a chemistry professor at Washington University in St. Louis, says that the aim should instead be to avoid allowing periods of imbalance to last longer than necessary.

Cara Tannenbaum, a physician and a director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, agrees, saying that the key is to focus on personal fulfilment, and that some aspects of your life will often have to take a back seat.

Inger Mewburn took a data-driven approach to managing her time (and her manager’s expectations) after experiencing two breakdowns in her mid-career stage.

Mewburn, director of research training at the Australian National University in Canberra, now uses a software program to track and prioritize tasks, schedule meetings and negotiate with her supervisor things that she can stop doing.

Chemical engineer Andrea Armani, a vice-dean at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, cautions against accepting all invitations at the mid-career stage, noting that at one point she was sitting on 30 committees.

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