I am relatively early in my career (less than 5 years experience and all of it at academic institutions) but it seems to me that working on only one project for an extended period of time is a luxury reserved for beginners and maybe people leading the project. Its becoming increasingly clear to me that effective time management is a crucial skill for bioinformaticians but I haven't seen much discussion of it. Obviously the best strategies to employ will vary based on your work load, personality and other factors but I still think it would be very useful to read about what other people in this community do. Here are a few specific questions to get the ball rolling:
How do you allocate time for multiple, unrelated projects?
Personally, I like to split my days into pre/post-lunch blocks of time and set goals relating to a single project within each block of time. For example: I might aim to finish writing a shell script for Project A and run it before going to lunch then switch my focus after lunch to interpreting some results relating to Project B and deciding what to do next time I work on Project B.
What are some specific tools or techniques that you use to make swapping between projects faster/easier?
- I try to use complete paths in my scripts whenever possible because it makes it easier to remind myself where all the relevant files are
- I use draw.io to make flowcharts describing my workflows and save them in lab notebook
How do you manage expectations when it becomes clear that a project's timeline/deadlines are unrealistic or will not be met?
The only way I currently deal with this is blunt honesty framed around what can be done in time; "You can count on Part 1 of the analysis to be done by Friday but probably not much else".
Please consider posting additional questions as well as offering your answers to those already posted.