We asked the members of the in silico Plants editorial board what they do to achieve work/life balance.

This is what they said:

Alexander LipkaTo be honest, I am still working on this. What I try to do is stop working after 5 pm and spend time with my family. On the weekends, I only answer emails that are urgent; when I work on the weekends I focus on getting non-research items taken care of (e.g., homework for the class I teach, taking care of service-related action items).

Dr. Alex Lipka

Assistant Professor | Bioinformatics and Statistics| University of Illinois


Dr Amy Marshall-ColonIt’s wacky, but the need to achieve a work/life balance didn’t become clear to me until after having children. Now, without a hint of guilt, I tell students and colleagues that my evenings and weekends are for my family. I still answer a few emails or work on something after my kiddos go to bed, which I think is a part of the balance. I also try to limit the number of conferences and speaking engagements I accept because my kids are still little so it’s hard on all of us when I’m away. I recently started taking a yoga class, which has been therapeutic for body and mind. It’s crazy to think that it took me nearly 20 years since I started doing research to jump on the self-care train. So, I guess I’m still learning how to achieve a work/life balance!

Dr. Amy Marshall-Colón

Assistant Professor | Department of Plant Biology | University of Illinois


Yunbi XuPerhaps I can be well recognized as a workaholic, working day and night including most weekends. Like many scientists in China, we just simply schedule our meetings for the weekends to make sure that the time works for most participants. So by the end, our weekends are filled up soon by various scheduled meetings. But my life has to go on with a certain level of balance with work.

Traveling, largely associated with weekend meetings and field trips, becomes the most important way of leaving work aside. Sightseeing may not happen if the travel is by flying (which is too high) or speed trains (which is too fast). Taking half a day off with each trip exposes me to local specialities, sightseeing and ecological agricultures. The world is too big and I can always find something new, no matter where I go. What I gather during my travel are not only tons of photos but also being relaxed and refreshed for returning back to the workaholic model. The loop continues…

Dr. Yunbi Xu

Maize Molecular Breeder/Principal Scientist | Institute of Crop Science | Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences


However, work-life balance, where time devoted work and time devoted to leisure and personal care, a tug-of-war for your time and energy is not the only way of approaching the work-life problem. Isn’t work part of your life, after all? I encourage you to explore two other options for fitting together the disparate pieces of your life that seem to be at odds.

Work-life integration blurs the lines between your work and personal life and look for opportunities for synergy between and among the domains.

Work-life alignment happens when you are clear on what you want in your life and then use your work as a catalyst for creating your desired future.