Getting the most out of your timePosted: January 8, 2012
Dr. O and Gerty-Z recently blogged on how they allocate time in their day to various activities. I’m consistently trying to figure out how to make the most of my working hours, since between having two kids and a full plate at work, I struggle to get as much of the vitally-important stuff done as possible. Vitally important stuff=writing grants and papers (teaching is in this category for the semesters that I teach). Important stuff=making sure everything in lab is running fluidly and troubleshooting problems. Less important stuff=dept service.
I’m now starting my third year on the TT and have secured funding. My publications have been light over the last 2 years since the majority of my post-doc work was published right as I left. I still have ‘extra’ data sitting around from then that I can analyze and write up but am less inclined to do so when preliminary data have been coming in from my lab members. We do have one paper from my group currently in review and I have one from post-doc that has been giving me issues which I need to flip–but, when you look at my CV it is noticeably light over the past 2 years–only 3 papers published, and two of them were reviews.
I have been focused on writing grants and since opening my lab have put in 5 federals and 3 locals. Now the focus must turn to getting papers out, and that is the plan. Where’s my bar? In good years I would like to aim for 3-5 solid data pubs per year*.
Based on recent experience, though, I am not sure this is possible. My lab members are all very young and inexperienced with writing for publication. I can write decently fast when I need–not as fast as some, but I can get a paper written within a month or less. I’m the kind of writer that doesn’t need to revise too much after the first draft. I know, there are issues with this strategy but old habits are hard to shake.
The point of this string of thoughts is that I am wondering how I can learn to produce papers and grants at the same time. I am limited to daycare hours, and I am not going to sacrifice my health any longer (ie working late into the night, not working out, etc). I am convinced there is a way to be smart about being productive. And still be highly productive at most things rather than a ‘cluster’ producer like I have been — one year I had 6 papers published, five of them first author. It’s just how I’ve rolled. And I’m re-thinking this–I’d like to show more consistency over time.
*I’m assuming here that the experiments are panning out and the data are interesting. Huge freaking assumption.