Research? – How can you manage time to be productive?

Research and analysis is done by every person across all professions, industries whether you are creating a new product/service, writing a thesis, understanding customer personas, analysing diseases, measuring economy and more. This blog that you are reading is also based on some level of research. The focus here is about how to manage time during research and it does not cover lab or clinical research as it’s a completely different ball game.

Every research has its scope of work and a deadline with it. Time tracking research tasks and subtasks is key to success.

Which type of researcher are you?
Everyone does research. If you want to publish a blog you would do a research on the desired topic, keywords, reach, who wrote what, influencers etc. If you are a student you will do an in depth research on papers,  resources, articles, books, case studies and journals. Using the great answering machine Google bloggers, authors, aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners, freelancers, homemakers, consumers, lawyers, law enforcement personnel, doctors, and working professionals are doing all sorts of research, analysis and reporting to achieve their desired objective or purpose.There are professionals who do research and analysis all day, then there are graduate students, research scientists, professors, and postdocs who rely a lot of research to complete their tasks.

Here is a fun quiz to understand which type of researcher you are. Share your comments if the quiz turned out to be true in your case.

Finding answers on internet
Research is about finding or discovering the unknown. All data or knowledge is now available online in digital platforms, even existing researches, so It’s more easy now to do research and use the content to interpret. It’s just a matter of figuring out the “What” and “How” aspect of research strategy. You do research to see what’s done and how it’s done and find opportunities to do research that’s never been done. Platforms like Google, Google Books, Wikipedia can help you get a vast of amount of information or knowledge. Initiatives like Quora are making sure there is no question that is left unanswered, while being the source of research for many professionals.

If you have a research idea there are 90% chance it’s been thought of already or done and published online. The challenge for researchers is to search through the ocean of information using search engines and finding the right one that suits your research need.

Managing time with Research
Time is an asset which you are always spending, and it can never be regained or replaced. Time can be managed and used wisely to save and optimize your minutes, hours, days.

Here are some tips to help you take the front seat and keep your research on the go. If you time every activity listed below you can save time and improve your time management skills.

1. Questions
Keep noting them as they come, when you think of doing research you get flooded with many questions, some relevant some wage and some irrelevant and this way you can get drifted and lose focus. It’s natural for our mind to keep questioning as your continue your research. Make list of all questions until your research is on and then identify the missed questions to address or refine your research, this will save you lot of time from going back and forth finding answers.

2. Search
Make list of topic specific websites, sources where you want to search answers, you know which ones they are don’t you? In case you don’t then try using the list of questions that you made and look for answers or knowledge in the google ocean, it’s important to keep rephrasing your questions/keywords until you get what you are looking for. Scan through all pages that google shows and don’t limit to the first 5 or 10 result pages. Sometimes the best knowledge is hidden deep inside those pages. Make use of google filters such as time to find historical or old data.

3. Answers
Just like your questions the answers you might find might be useful or just used as reference, if you feel it’s interesting or useful or if you are unsure then collate all the content related to your research, categorize them by questions, this will help you understand where you stand, you can always track and reuse the data as and when you need in your research. Sometimes it takes multiple answers or content to get the one right answer. Think that you are Sherlock Holmes trying to solve a mystery crime and you are collecting every piece of evidence as you find them to nab the criminal. Exciting right?

4. Timing
Research activity is exhausting, especially if you don’t find what you are looking for or if you are finding too much information regarding your topic. As you make list of questions, do search, collate answers, prepare documents, proofread, edit and do other research tasks It get’s hard to keep a track of everything that’s happening and allocate time, but it’s easy to record time for all these tasks and see how you are performing everyday. If you research is not time bound then make it time bound to ensure you don’t over optimize or over spend your time. Afterall who doesn’t like to have free time by doing tasks more fast and efficiently?

Managing time with research to be productive requires careful, meticulous prioritization and planning. If you have a plan on Research strategy, questions, sources it is much easier to budget time. Let us know how these tips helped you save time.

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