Getting through a slump: Paired Sciencing

two squirrels

Almost all scientists hate writing and editing. Many find careful reading of scientific literature very difficult and energy-consuming. Finishing these tasks can take very long time, especially closer to the end. Remember, work scales with 80/20 principle: 80% of time is spent on 20% of the task.

By applying Paired Sciencing method we were able, in some instances, to get over the slump and finish stalled tasks.

The basis of Paired Sciencing follows from the Pair Programming technique of The Agile methodology. The aim of pair programming is to work on a single piece of software simultaneously with partner, so that number of bugs will go down and problem-solving will be more efficient with 2 pairs of eyes. The goal of Paired Sciencing is simpler: leverage accountability in the group to get through tasks that would be otherwise delayed or avoided till the last minute.

The practice of Paired Sciencing goes like that:

  1. Pick up a partner of several, agree to participate in Paired Sciencing session.
  2. Pick date, time, location. Book a conference room with a door (shared offices or open space doesn’t work). Ideally in the unusual, yet comfortable location. Sometimes you can get away from lab and book a quiet library space.
  3. Use time-box: agree that you will work for limited time (for example, an hour).
  4. Pick task or tasks that can fit in the time-box. Articulate to all your partners what you will be working on.
  5. Get in the room, close the door, set up timer for the duration. Now, keep silence and write/read/code/study
AP Photo/Rizza Alee

Hopefully, you and your group will be able to provide necessary support to get to the end of the timer with all boring work out of the way.

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