We have all been there. A mountain of work. Everything is screaming for attention. All of it is ASAP. The sheer scope of the task ahead makes you want to get up and leave, never to come back. In an attempt to overcome your panic, you want to do something. You notice that industry magazine on your desk and think to yourself: “I haven’t really done any research lately.” For the next hours, you sink into your research, look for good blogs about it and generally escape the mountain for a while.
Research is important. It will give you impulses to try new techniques in your field or refine existing ones. Why should doing research ever be a problem? The answer is simple: if you do it at the wrong time. To keep with our starting metaphor, the next day you come to the office and want to put your new knowledge to use – you found a new interesting approach. What you don’t realise is that you just made your mountain bigger. Here you are sitting in front of an even bigger mountain that instils, even more, fear in you. The tasks got a day more urgent and the pressure is rising. Well, you haven’t sorted your file cabinet in a while. The mountain keeps growing. Soon the tasks at the bottom will rot and you will have to spend precious time with disgruntled customers, CEOs and co-workers.
There are several solutions for this problem, which all have one goal in common: Control the mountain. A one size fits all solution does not exist. Everyone works differently so different things will work for different people.
Whichever approach or combination of approaches is best suited for you, next time you do something, ask yourself if it is really the most productive thing you could do right now. If not, do what is!