Planning in research: from long-term strategy to a single experiment. Part 2: Tactics

Now that you’ve established what your high priority projects are, you should think about how to schedule the tasks within these projects to make the best of your time. Hopefully, you’ve come up with what the skeleton of your project is and how the tree of life is structured. These will be important in figuring out what is more and what is less urgent in terms of individual tasks. Once you have a decent idea of what must be done and in what order, you can start scheduling out your week. Here, I would strongly recommend using the “Big rocks” approach pioneered by Steve Covey (I highly recommend his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book by the way). Continue reading

Planning in research: from long-term strategy to a single experiment. Part 1: Strategy

Good planning is absolutely essential in research. It is what makes a difference between a competent scientist who does decent work, and an excellent one who really pushes the envelope. People with poor planning skills will waste tons of time on futile projects and so will not be able to focus on what really matters. While good planning is something that comes naturally with experience, I think it’s useful to have a framework you can refer to at any career stage. The framework I use can be divided into three levels: Strategic planning, tactical planning, and planning of single experiments. Single experiment planning was roughly summed up in my post about “the gory details“, and I will talk about tactical planning in my next post, so let’s get right into strategic planning. Continue reading