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[D] (“Soft”) Life compartmentalization and practical aspects of working in ML

Some background on myself: I just finished my phd doing ML research, and I’ll soon begin a postdoc. My apologies if this is not the right subreddit, but I feel many of you may be dealing with the same issues as me, and I think we could benefit from a discussion of this.

I’ve noticed that essentially all the time, I feel I should be working. This is clearly no way to live my life, so I’m trying to identify all the factors in this. One factor is I often stay up late trying to get code to work so I can train it while I sleep. So I go to bed thinking about work, and I wake up thinking about work because the first thing I do is check the results. Since I also work during the day, I never stop thinking about how things are going, etc. This mentality makes me very moody: if I’m getting bad results, I feel like what I’m working on is doomed. In short, I identify my life situation and self-worth with simulation results that are relatively arbitrary.

Does anyone else feel the same way? How might we fix this issue? I think part of a solution is to work on more ‘conceptual’ problems in which things like hyperparameter tuning carries less weight, requiring less amounts of training time. But even though I work on pretty conceptual stuff anyway (no classification problems which often become quite industrialized), small changes in the model do make a difference in quantitative results, which must be there for publication.

I’ve toyed with the idea of a hard cutoff for work, e.g., 8 or 9 pm. But I often find that when I have to train during the day, I feel like I lose a day and just piddle that day away, waiting for the results to finish so I know what to think about or do next.

submitted by /u/Obesogen
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