Multi-tasking & me

**Warning this contains some brain dumpage and rambling**

I was reading Stepwise Girl's post today and she pointed out that she had a lot of things to do and was having problems switching between them. That got me to thinking about how I have the same problem. I like to complete a project before moving on to the next one. About half way through the first project I get anxious to start the next, but I force myself to focus and complete my current one. Then, the new project serves as a sort of "reward." When I was younger this worked out fairly well for me. I could study one complete section from one subject thoroughly and then move on to the next subject. Or I could serve on whatever committee/volunteer at whatever organization until that particular time period/event was over and it'd be done. However, this is not working so well for me in the lab right now.

I've got two major projects (Yeast and FPE-Related)--that are related to each other but involve two different organisms and techniques-- and each has a variety of sub-projects (vector constructions, protein purification, etc.). Plus, I'm supposed to be helping Advisor write a review about Enzyme Subunit. I'm also mentoring an undergraduate student this summer and will likely be adding another in the fall. All told this doesn't feel like it's too much, but recently I realized that I put most of the the other Major Project on hold while I've been working on Yeast Project for Major European Conference. I've gotten to the point in FPE-Related Project that I'd have to commit about three full, consecutive days to it in order to move it to the next level. I haven't done that yet, because I have to keep Yeast Project going (Advisor's orders). In the meantime, I'm taking breaks from working on Yeast Project to mentor Untrained and Flighty Undergrad (who from here on out will be referred to as Flighty, I think. It sounds harsh, though, so I'm still debating this name). This takes approximately three times longer than I think it will and have begun to schedule it accordingly.

Yes, I've started to actually schedule my day. I'm talking fifteen or so minute increments. Otherwise I'll sit down and think Crap. What was it I was supposed to be doing next? At the end of each day I look at what I did that day, figure out what the next steps are, and schedule those for the following day (I've found the following multipliers to be useful: 1.5 for experiments, 3.0 for training, and +/- 0.5 for Reading, Writing, etc.). I've even started to broadly schedule my time at home (first get home dishes and laundry; some time in the evening clean bathtub, sink, & toilet-- yes, I lead a very exciting life). I'm not sure that this will work or is entirely necessary, but I really want to stuff done FPE-Related Project and desperate times call for desperate measures.