I think the worst part is the fact that sometimes I tend to plan my time around my experiments. This means that I have to go to the lab on public holidays and weekends sometimes because I have to do my experiments on these days (mainly because microalgae don’t care what day of the week it is. they just grow!). So sometimes I don’t have much spare time for leisure activities.
The worst part is the bad career structure. The career of a research scientist at a University typically goes:
1st degree > PhD > post-doctoral researcher > group leader
The further to the right you go the less jobs there is available. So there are always lots and lots of post-doctoral researchers all trying to get just a couple of group leader jobs. To make matters worse, there is also a limited amount of time you can be a post-doctoral researcher for. So if that time runs out, and you still haven’t been able to get a group leader job, then you have nowhere to go in this career structure.
This is a real problem that needs to be sorted out.
Science gets to be a bit of an obsession and I find myself sitting at the weekend planning experiments in my head, or coming up with a really great idea when shopping. If I’m with anyone it drives them mad! So like Daphne, sometimes I don’t use my spare time for other stuff.