I know the distinction between important and urgent has become trite. But when I was a sproutling, someone explaining the difference hit me between the eyes like an icy snowball.
From the discussion on my last post:
The Other Sidesays:
Wait, are you saying that the postdoc should postpone the experiments and focus on the pubs and his career or the opposite?
It is very easy to get lost in urgent. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in important, and lose track of urgent. I have found that as I age time flows differently. When I was younger, Things had to be done now! Things fell if not into the urgent basket, at least into the oh crap, its time to panic about this, now, basket. As a trainee the perceived and real pressures of getting results, finding a job, and just moving on in life are often overwhelming.
Learning to balance important and urgent is part of the professional skills that PD's learn. They're probably critical to long term mental health. Learning to focus down on one thing, for a space of time, but then being capable of moving on to the next and focusing on that one is hard. But necessary. For my postdoc, yes, writing and getting out papers that demonstrate productivity as a PD is both important and urgent. On the other hand, doing this set of experiments may be less urgent (for the postdoc) but represent something that has the potential to be very important, just not necessarily on the current time line. And, this has given me another vignette to put into a letter of recommendation.