On Monday we got a flat tire on one of our cars, which luckily happened in a parking lot while the boy was sleeping. I put the spare on without waking him up, but the tire place didn't have the exact tire in stock. So while waiting for it to arrive from their warehouse, yesterday I went to Starbuck's to help force myself to edit the paper with the final changes. There I sat, getting high on caffeine.
I took a quick break from red pen action, and sat down to start something that Odyssey over at Pondering Blather suggested some time ago, which was to make a 5 year plan. This has been frankly somewhat daunting, but really I found it pretty helpful. It has made me prioritize what I want to do, by thinking explicitly about my broader goals.
Sure, this is blatantly obvious, and I have done broadly similar things before, but never quite kept up on it. Nor had I made it so explicit, but with greater experience, I feel more comfortable filling out the details. Previously I was also hesitant to formulate a plan like this because I hate the idea of forcing scientific projects into definite time frames, for fear of adding some unconcious bias to the thought process. First though, a lot of what goes on this isn't necessarily about experiments, but other related goals. And it's all fungible anyway, since no one can predict how things will turn out. One reason, you know, why we do experiments.
Besides, there are ways to keep yourself honest and keep yourself open to seeing unexpected things in your data, while still being able to evaluate how much progress has been made and what tasks remain. In the past I think I was able to get away with just sorta going with the flow, but now that I have more family responsibilities and helluva lot less time, this approach no longer works.
I definitely recommend taking Odessey's advice in this case, so go fill out your own 5 year plan. Ok, now I'll get back to plotting world domination *ahem*, I mean advancing human knowledge, while at the same time fighting my inner organization-productivity nerd lust to implement it all in Liquid Planner.