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Q&A On Consistency In Schedules

Q&A on consistency in schedules

Some time ago, on one of my posts, I received the following comment/question.

I have read your schedule. And I draw some kind of inspiration from it. Currently I am into research. I am pursuing Masters.
I just want to know that how do you maintain consistency in your schedule?? If experiments get down, it affects the entire schedule. What do you do to make sure that you follow your daily routine??

There’s a number of things to address here:

1. Overall planning
If an experiment fails, or a pandemic* makes your lab close, then your overall planning may be going south. If something major like that happens, then you should discuss with your supervisor and your funder, and ask for an adjustment of your timeline.

2. Buffer

I work buffer into my schedule on a daily basis and within projects. I try to finish projects weeks before their deadline. For everything I plan on a daily basis, I plan to work about 75% of the timeblock assigned to the task. This accounts for disturbances and delays, and does not take into account just bad days when I can’t focus on anything (and yes, with the COVID-19 situation, I’ve had days that were spent alternating between the news and Twitter and fretting over my family in Europe).

3. Daily routines
If notice that your daily routine does not have sufficient lab time in there, then extend the amount of time you spend in the lab and devote less time to other activities (I am NOT advocating here for just working more hours… that’s only a last resort when you need to buckle down to make a deadline).
If the time you are spending in the lab daily is adequate, for example because you can just spend a certain amount of hours behind a machine or because you need to wait for a reaction to take place, then stay with the same daily routine, and let your supervisor know about the overall delay of the project.

* I am writing this post on March 15th, the borders of Ecuador are closed and Tuesday we go in lockdown. In Delft, the lab is closed for an indefinite amount of time. Certainly, I did not see that coming in my planning, and my overall planning for this year is a big question mark and I don’t even know if I’ll be traveling to Europe in a few weeks for my annual research stay.

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