Percent Effort

Jan 30 2015 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey

Times I have made critical progress in conceptualizing experiments, grant proposals and manuscript language this past month or so.

-exiting lab on way to get in my car
-3am
-4:15am
-riding a chairlift
-sitting at my desk putzing on Twitter
-the shower
-commuting
-lingering at coffee shop
-during random PI blathering to technician
-2:15am

7 responses so far

  • Philapodia says:

    I get the 3am epiphany, happens to me every once in a while too. Much better than spending the day aligning sequences and then trying to align sequences in my sleep. That tends to be not very fruitful.

  • thorazine says:

    A currently-active project in the lab came to me in a dream.

  • Rebecca Riggins says:

    As I was pulling into a spot in the parking garage on my way in this morning.

  • Bio Data Sci says:

    Sitting on the pot.
    Running.

  • becca says:

    Meanwhile, I had a dream about being fired after asking my PI for a raise.

    Mind you, I doubt my PI would do that, but I can't be the only one whose brain refuses to consolidate the scientifically interesting stuff.

  • Science Grunt says:

    The percent effort is the amount of time spent doing something, not the time of the day at which something happened. So if you want to be technical, a breakthroughs in the pot at 3am doesn't mean you can "bill" the whole time between 9pm until 3am because you were thinking about the problem. You can only "bill" the ~5mins that you started thinking about it to the moment you wrote the idea down. And I'm going to bet that all these insightful moments amounts to about 1 hour a week, only a dent in the 40hr/wk standard.

    The problem of f how much time you spent working on an intellectual problem is indeed hard but lawyers and business consultants do this because their stakeholder, the customer, cares. And what these people often do is define clear boundaries, eg, the time I spent in my office/desk working on this case or in related meetings. If my lawyer billed me 4hrs because she was still thinking about my case from 9pm till 3am, I'm sure I'd change lawyers.

    I'm not against the numbers thrown in the effort fields in grants and reports, but it's as meaningless as the 40hr/wk is. We all work probably 60-80hr/wk and just having 2 meetings a week + spending 2 hours reviewing data/literature on a project amounts to 10% effort, something that easily happens. But if you tell a start-up founder that you charge time spent writing grants, he'll be angry. And if you tell a lawyer you "bill" your flash of genius in the toilet, he'll be angry.

    So I propose that scientists stop with that BS of "we never really stop working so we actually work 168hr/wk" and just admit that our hours are creative accounting.

  • Philapodia says:

    @Science Grunt The post is about when inspiration hits, not how many hours you put in, although your rant is amusing...

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