This must be something that everyone struggles with.  I’ve just been reading the book At The Helm: A Laboratory Navigator by Kathy Barker, and in one chapter she details the different types of tasks that we face and how their categorization sometimes makes it difficult to get things done.  For example, you have things that are urgent and important (e.g., getting a grant submitted in the final week before the deadline) vs. things that are important but not urgent (e.g., reading papers to keep up on the research in your field).  There are also things that are urgent but not important, like answering emails, filling out some paperwork, and basically all the little things that take up your day – these things prevent us from doing things that are important but not urgent.  (Just to clarify, this is taken from Time Management Matrix by Stephen R. Covey.)

Table of urgencies

Why am I always in the lower right corner?

So, right now is a time when I’m struggling with these issues.  Usually, for me, it’s a war between ‘urgent but not important’ minutia that I am easily caught up in and ‘not urgent but important’ big-picture stuff.  Seriously, sometimes I love organizing my inbox a little too much.

Right now, however, I’m struggling with ‘urgent and important’ and ‘not urgent but important’.  I have papers and projects that I need to finish now, before I leave my postdoc, and I also need to be planning courses and research for my future.  These last two are kind of urgent, but still easy to put off compared to the pressure to finish the current projects I’m involved in.  (Yes, I have a research statement.  No, it’s not the same as being ready to start a research project when you arrive, or at least it isn’t for me.)  So it’s kind of stressful right now.  I am trying not to think about how this stress is almost certainly nothing compared to what I sill be facing in a few months.