The 80/20 rule

Olivier Bousquet at Machine Learning Thoughts has an insightful observation about life in academia or a research setting: “No matter where you are, it is almost impossible to spend more than 20% of your time doing research.” He calls this the 80/20 rule, and goes on to make a very sensible proposition:

Instead of choosing a job based on the amount of time that you will be allowed to spend on research, rather choose it based on what exactly the 80% other activities are.

Indeed, you should rather pick a job whose 80% activities you find enjoyable (unless you really can stand doing things you do not like for the sake of the remaining 20%).

Good advice. It can be frustrating when you want to do scholarship but don’t have the time, thinking that you should have as much time as you’d like for such things. Read the whole thing as well as the articles before and after that one, which are on “The Happiness of a Scientist”. (The last update on his blog was February; I hope he continues the series.)

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