Thursday, January 30, 2020

Day 30: Organize Your Research Projects

On Day 15, we talked about your to-do list. On Day 28, we talked about your research goals. But there's one missing piece that goes in-between: your research projects.

Your goal defines where you want to end up. It is your destination. Your to-do list identifies the very specific actions that you need to do each day. But to get to your goal, you need a project. You need to make that long list of specific tasks, decide on which ones need to be done, in what order, and on what days. Some tasks can be done tomorrow. Others may have to wait weeks or months, depending upon how earlier tasks go, upon how much time you have on your calendar, and upon what other people (collaborators, repository staff, etc.) do and when they do it.

Beginner goals might involve simple projects and may take only a few months to accomplish. Goals created by experienced researchers might require elaborate projects that, if carried out correctly, might take a full year or more.

If your project is elaborate, you will need to take the big project and divide it into smaller sub-projects, and then keep on dividing until you get to those very specific tasks. You'll want to set due dates for each project piece, so that you can stay on track and not waste time. Yes, real life and unexpected issues can get in the way, so you'll need to prepare for extending the timeline if things interfere. But who knows? Perhaps things will go more quickly than you originally expected, and you can change the timeline to move the final due date earlier than you had planned.

Define your research goals. Create your research projects. And identify your research tasks. Get from start to finish.

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