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.
These should probably be three separate posts/questions, not because they're unrelated but to keep clearer threads.