One of the things I did today was update my board. About 2 or 3 times a year I have to re--approach THE BIG WHITE BOARD. That's a write on/wipe off board I have in my office that I use to track the research work that I have going on. Here's a picture of a similar one I had in my office at the University of Alabama. I don't have a pciture of the current one, because I keep forgetting to bring my camera to the office with me.
It's interesting to look back at this old picture of "the board." This picture was taken about three years ago==and was part of my job talk at IU and Penn State. The theory behind the board is the same. . . always have something going at each stage of the research pipeline. I suppose it's telling of how you conceptualize the research process by how you would divide up the stages. You'll see in this picture that I have Future (a place to capture those ideas that strike you as a cool research question/hypothesis/area of interest that you'd like to pursue someday), Prep, Data Collection, Analysis, Write, Conference, and Under Review).
You'll also notice on this particular picture that my "Future" studies column was taken with the Command to Write! Write! Write!
That seems to be a difficulty for me.. . and the board has been getting particularly "right-heavy" with projects stacking up on the Right (write?) side.
And so, because of that fact, it is easy to get to feeling overwhelmed.
That's why an important task associated with updating the board is to change the colors of things you have completed.
Remember in Homicide when the murder was first discovered and the name of the victim was written on the board in one color ink. Then, when it was finally solved, you saw the extreme close up of the hand erasing the name and REWRITING it in a different color? No sense in having all the work of the investigators immediately forgotten by erasing the name.
Today, I updated the board.
[oh, and by the way, if anyone reading this knows which color was the open case and which the closed case in Homicide please let me know].