I think one of the most important things scientists need to do is know how to rest well. Going to the gym is hugely important, yet not always possible. I think that the best thing I have ever done in my career was to adopt something Prof. Ian Manners (now at Bristol) taught me several years ago, namely not to go to office on Wednesdays. Just work from home, he said. This simple change has made a world of difference because it has turned into a mechanism to work on manuscripts, grants, and to read at home. I feel the need for this extra time now that I am on sabbatical and actually do go to work on Wednesdays! What an irony. I really miss my Wednesdays off and there is definitely a feeling of being overwhelmed with all the stuff such as administrative responsibilities, writing reference letters, and so on.
So, if you read this, trust me because this is well tested: if you become a Prof. (which, sadly, will mean that you will spend way less time on thinking about research compared to your time as a postdoc or as a graduate student): skip work once a week. When I was in Russia last week, I talked to Valery Fokin, my old friend (now a Professor at Scripps), who told me that he has now also adopted this method. Valery does it even better, I have to say: he does not open email at all on Wednesdays. When I am back from my sabbatical in January, I will give this a shot, there is no question about that.
It took me a while to find this method (thank you, Ian Manners!) and it works… You know what Churchill said: “We always come to the right decision, having tried everything else first”.