A day in the life: Platform Manager Mie Mechta

As everyone settles into daily life working from home, I spoke to Mie Mechta about how she is juggling managing the Single Cell Omics Platform and parenting two young boys. Here’s a normal day in Mie’s life, alongside her husband and kids. 

5:30 – The kids wake up between 5:30 and 6:00. As myself and my husband are both working full-time, we try to stick to a schedule throughout the day where we alternate work and childcare shifts of around two hours. I am a morning person, so I take the first shift and let my husband sleep in for another hour or so. 

Mie’s workspace at home

7:00 – My husband takes over so I can start my work day. I start by making a to-do list and by preparing for any meetings I have that day. This is also the time I can go through my emails and reply to anything urgent. 

8:00 – Back on kid duty, we do an activity together. Yesterday we colored Easter eggs, which kept them occupied for a while! 

Painting easter eggs

9:00 – I attend a virtual lab meeting with the Barrès group for a couple hours. Normally, I try to attend lab meetings from several groups, since this is a good way to be updated and hear about new projects and protocols. This morning, we talked through what we completed last week and the tasks we are hoping to get done this week. It’s nice to hear from colleagues and get updates on the different projects.

11:00 – An early lunch with the kids. 

12:00 – We go outside for a short bike ride, to get fresh air and stretch our legs. This is especially important with two small boys who are full of energy!

The view from our bike ride

14:00 – I meet with Mette and Helle, who are the lab technicians on the platform, to talk through their tasks. As the labs are closed due to the lockdown, we have been focusing on setting up Labguru, a digital lab book for the Center. I also fit in some work on the platform’s webpage, which we launched a few months ago. I am building some price examples for different services we offer and writing a short explanation of how to acknowledge the platform in publications. 

17:30 – Early dinner with the family. 

19:00 – The kids go to bed and I am able to get a couple more hours of work in. Last night I worked on producing a sequencing calendar for the platform in Labguru. When I work in the evenings, I try to focus on easy tasks as I am usually pretty tired! Then, I go to bed and start all over again the next morning…

A day in the life: Jessie Preston

The University of Copenhagen has now been shut down for almost two weeks, so how are CBMR staff getting on at home? PhD student Jessie Preston shares her daily routine, which involves baking, starting early, but waiting until mid-afternoon to get ready for the day – why not?

7:15 – For the most part I wake up at about the same time as I did when I was going into the office, however, it does differ each day because, well, I can!  I immediately pop a loaf of bread in the oven that has been proofing overnight. Is it just me who has gotten incessantly into baking during the quarantine? There is currently a cake, some brownies, blueberry muffins, and two types of bread on the countertop. It is safe to say the quarantine is not great for my waistline.

I am not held back by the great danish yeast shortage of 2020!

7:30 – I have realised that my brain is sharpest first thing in the morning so I have been attempting to complete mentally-strenuous tasks first. This morning I proceed to finish pulling the data from literature for a power calculation, do some calculations for a future animal experiment, and go through my emails for the day.

My morning workspace including several Ikea impulse-buys after realising that I would be working from home for several weeks and did not own a desk.

9:15 – One of our group members has arranged to use this time to teach an R tutorial. It is great to finally have the time to dedicate to learning a new skill that has been on the to-do list for a while. I attend a two-hour video conference via Microsoft Teams with four other members of the Barrès lab.

This is what our R course looks like, setup and organised by Leo in Microsoft Teams.

11:00 – I go through and respond to a few messages from colleagues.  Our team has mostly been engaging in “chats” using Microsoft Teams.  Although not the same as having casual encounters with them in the office, it is a meaningful replacement.

11:15 – After several hours of using my brain, it is feeling a bit foggy.  I decide now is a good time to get in some exercise while the sun is shining and go for a run in the park.

Attempting to find less crowded running routes while the parks miraculously seem to be far more crowded than usual.  

12:30 – The CBMR Labguru Working Group has set up a Labguru Training webinar via GoToMeeting, which I sit in on. It seems most online meetings I have attended use different platforms to the point where I have now downloaded 4 new softwares for video conferencing.  They all work relatively well.

This afternoon’s work space.  See pictured, on left, a muffin – I am not letting quarantine get in the way of CBMR’s tradition for afternoon cakes!

14:00 – After the 90-minute seminar, my concentration is waning.  I chat on the phone with a friend in a different time zone.  A definite plus of working from home is the ability to take calls with friends and family in different parts of the world with a lot more ease of scheduling.

14:30 – I take a shower and get dressed for the day.  Better late than never.

15:30 – I find that I have a lull in my concentration in the afternoon, so I have basically stopped attempting to do work during this time as I know I will get nothing done. Instead I run some errands: go to the store, do my laundry, and finish some housework.

17:00 – Most evenings I get a second wind where I can complete the bulk of my lengthy but more mundane tasks. Tonight, I spend two hours going through literature that I have flagged to read for the study I am planning, and another two hours making some edits to a document that a colleague has recently proofread.  I complete these while sitting in on a virtual “party” that my flatmate is throwing for her parent’s wedding anniversary over Zoom (yes, another video conferencing software).  It is inspiring to see all of the alternative ways that we are able to connect during these weird times.  I can definitely cheers to that!

My evening workspace.  My flatmates and I set up a proper at-home office when we realized that we may have to be prepared for the long-haul.

21:00 – I finish the day by going through my to-do list, marking off what has been complete, the tasks I hope to accomplish tomorrow, and adding any new assignments to the load.  There is definitely plenty to be done even when working from home, the trouble seems to be actually doing it. But by giving myself space and forgiveness for having different expectations while in lockdown, I seem to have found a way to work that works for me.