Following a Research Plan – an update

by Jaclyn McLean, Electronic Resources Librarian
University of Saskatchewan

In August, I wrote about my personal challenge of taking on too much. I committed to a plan for the year ahead, and to keep reminding myself that my plate was full. Well, readers, let me admit that I may have not been able to keep my idea generating brain completely in check.

Click the above tweet to read the Twitter conversation

I might need an intervention, and even though my early expectation was that my idea wouldn’t make the cut, I was wrong. My e-poster was accepted, and I’m getting excited about participating in ER&L from afar this year, and doing a Q&A about my poster on Twitter. And truly, the content of my poster is being informed by ongoing work I’m already doing. So, designing & making the poster as a short slide deck is the only added burden on my time. Am I being naïve, believing I can squeeze something else into my carefully planned Gantt chart for the next couple of months? As the deadlines for a few of my projects on the go draw nearer, I sure hope not. Am I glad that I made a careful plan for the year, am sticking to it, and managed to limit myself to one new research project? Yup! Would January and February be a bit calmer if I’d managed to restrain myself from submitting a proposal. Maybe, but we’ll never know.

I am still grateful to past me for making a research plan. It has been a very successful tool for me so far. Why?

• I am more conscious about how much time I actually have for new things
Without a plan, I would very likely have said to yes to a couple of new things because I was excited about them, and found myself in over my head

• I can update anyone about my progress on any ongoing project quickly & easily
Whether it’s collaborators, my research mentorship team, or someone else who’s interested, I always know where I’m at and where I’m going next

• I can update my plan easily, and it’s visually appealing
I check my Gantt chart at least once a month, at the start of a research day—it takes less than 10 minutes, and reminds me where I’d expected to be & where I’m at

• I went in knowing that there would need to be adjustments
Now I know which of my deadlines are external (e.g., a collaborator waiting for me to finish something, a journal submission deadline), and which ones are just for me, and can be adjusted to match current reality as a project progresses

• I feel rewarded and satisfied when I can check something off a list
I like making a plan and sticking to it, and the reward of staying on track is enough for me

Do you have any research planning strategies that work well for you?

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

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