I’m Robert Pietrzak, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and This is How I Work


I am an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and Director of the Translational Psychiatric Epidemiology Laboratory of the Clinical Neurosciences Division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
  My position is 100% research, so I spend most of my time writing grants and papers.  My research focuses on the epidemiology of traumatic stress and resilience across the lifespan; and dimensional models of trauma-related psychopathology and their neurobiological correlates.

Location: New Haven, CT
Current Gig: Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine; Director of the Translational Psychiatric Epidemiology Laboratory of the Clinical Neurosciences Division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
One word/phrase that best describes your work: Energy management.
Current computer: MacBook Pro, 15 inch.

What apps/tools/software can’t you live without?

Microsoft Office, SPSS, SAS, MPlus, EndNote, Spotify, Pandora, Waze.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? 

I try to manage energy, not time, and schedule in plenty of rest and recovery.  I learned how to do this at the Corporate Athlete course taught by psychologist Jim Loehr at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida.  This course has had a powerful influence on how I work and function by emphasizing the importance of nutrition, exercise, sleep, mood, high cognitive function, purpose and meaning, and most importantly, energy management.  We are all athletes in our respective professions, so taking care of these things is critical to being prepared, engaged, and ultimately successful.

What’s your workspace set up like?

Large desk with external 27” monitor into which I plug in my MacBook Pro, external keyboard and mouse.  Ergonomic chair with lumbar and neck supports.  iPhone.  View of woods.

How do you keep track of things you need to do (any to-do-list apps)? 

Old-fashioned spiral notebook organized into three categories: Grants, Papers, and Talks.  Items are triaged weekly and sorted from most to least urgent, usually based on deadlines, in each of these categories.

Besides your phone or computer, what gadget can’t you live without, and why?

Guitar, because it’s a great way to unwind and disengage from academic work.  I have also found that some of my best ideas are generated while playing.

What everyday thing can you do better than most people? What’s your secret?

Nothing really.  I think the key is to set reasonable and attainable goals daily, weekly, monthly, etc, and see a task through to completion by minimizing distractions and setting slightly higher goals so that accomplishment of the task is more rewarding (e.g., if you plan to write up the results section of a paper, add to that a goal to also write the methods section).  I have also found that I am most productive in the morning, so tend to get most of my writing done then.  Afternoons are usually spent in meetings, conducting analyses, answering emails, and editing grants and papers.  Secret: collaborate well and nurture successful collaborations.

What do you listen to while you work?

It depends on the task.  While writing, I do not listen to anything.  While conducting analyses or editing, I listen to music on Spotify or Pandora.  I am a musician and enjoy many genres of music, especially metal, rock, and jazz.

What are you currently reading?


How do you recharge?

Healthy food, exercise (i.e., weightlifting and elliptical machine), sleep.

What’s your sleep routine like?

8-9 hours per night.  Usually in bed at 10:30pm, up at 7am.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Time only has value when it intersects with energy.” – Jim Loehr, PhD


Robert Pietrzak

Website: psychiatry.yale.edu/people/robert_pietrzak-2.profile


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