Friday, February 8, 2013

field energy

I've discussed working hours previously. My maximum daily number to retain sanity is 13 (barely), but the number can go up from there if there's an emergency or if it's a travel day.

When I get back from a long day in the field, say, more than 12 hours, all I want to do is eat, decompress a little, and sleep. On occasion, though, I've worked with someone who is just ending either a 60+ hour work week or a 14+ hour single day, and starts coordinating a full night out with friends. I've listened to plans for clubbing or other high-energy hijinks with amazement. How on earth do they do that?

I mentioned this to a coworker, who noted that the folks going partying tended to be in their early-mid 20s and hadn't hit the post-30 metabolism/energy drop. Post-30? Hell, I've been doing this since immediately after graduating college, and at no point did I ever have the energy to do more than make dinner after a long field day.

I may be a wee bit of an outlier, though, for 3 reasons:

1. I'm an introvert. So spending an evening being social on top of a long day in the field would destroy me. Or at least make me a big party pooper.

2. When I was younger, I was often thrust into situations that were high-stress just because I wasn't experienced with overseeing surly drillers or dealing with the inevitable field snafu. I've gotten infinitely more comfortable with fieldwork and I'm much better at stress management, but I am probably feeling the effects of age more.

3. I'm a naturally high-energy person, but not an infinite-energy* person. When I'm in the field, I'm constantly moving, either popping up to adjust something, pacing during a phone call, or scurrying to collect something else I've forgotten. I do fine until I get home and sit on the couch/flop into bed and release all the tension I've been carrying, and then I'll need to be peeled off whatever I've landed on in order to shower and eat.

So when you were in or just out of college, did you go out and do active stuff after a long day of fieldwork? And if so, were you able to keep up that pace as you aged?

*I do have a friend whose bipolar disorder manifests almost entirely on the manic side. With medication, fieldwork, and a serious slate of physical hobbies, he doesn't need to be pried off the ceiling quite as often. He is very much an exception to a discussion of energy levels.

1 comment:

1o2p3e4r5 said...

When I was still in and just out of college, I was doing campaign work on exploration projects in the (very) remote Arctic. A 12-hour work day, including up to 20km traverses, was the norm - and was often supplemented by 2-4 hours of office work after dinner to write up the day's findings. Our support crew always had beer and movies after supper, and sometimes I would join them or work at a table in the room with them if it didn't require intense concentration - but I certainly wouldn't have been going out dancing if it had been an option.

Then, for several years, I worked on mine sites in Australia, where once 12 hours were up your work day was over unless there were pretty extenuating circumstances. They provided entertainment facilities and a couple times a week I'd do something for a couple hours, but it depended entirely on whether I'd been stuck at the computer or hauling around multiple heavy-duty hoses and filling sacks of samples in the underground all day. I probably did more here, even though I was older, because of the less physical job and the capped work hours.

THEN I worked another remote Arctic exploration job, for which I was the crew leader, and the work hours were regularly up to 18 a day (up sometime between 6-7 and rarely finished before midnight). This went on for three months, with a few days' break in the middle. It was exhausting and awesome and I considered successfully reading one page of my book before bed without falling asleep on it to be a recreational success.

I don't know if I consider myself to have kept up my pace - in work, certainly, I am capable of as much as I used to be (probably more). Recreationally... I am an introverted person and need my alone time, so I think it depends on the nature of my job. If I work alone all day, I'm more likely to seek out group activities in the evenings if energy allows. If I'm in an office all day surrounded by people, I beeline for my book or television.

*I have worked with those high-energy people, and they are crazy. I had a baby geologist a couple years ago who I could not wear out, no matter what I threw at him. Scary, but so incredibly useful to have around. :D