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Prodded by several comments, I have finally decided to write up some my thoughts on time management here. I actually have been drafting something about this subject for a while, but I soon realised that my own experience with time management is still very much a work in progress (you should see my backlog of papers that need writing up) and I don’t yet have a coherent or definitive philosophy on this topic (other than my advice on writing papers, for instance my page on rapid prototyping). Also, I can only talk about my own personal experiences, which probably do not generalise to all personality types or work situations, though perhaps readers may wish to contribute their own thoughts, experiences, or suggestions in the comments here. [I should also add that I don’t always follow my own advice on these matters, often to my own regret.]
I can maybe make some unorganised comments, though. Firstly, I am very lucky to have some excellent collaborators who put a lot of effort into our joint papers; many of the papers appearing recently on this blog, for instance, were to a large extent handled by co-authors. Generally, I find that papers written in collaboration take longer than singly-authored papers, but the net effort expended per author is significantly less (and the quality of writing higher). Also, I find that I can work on many joint papers in parallel (since the ball is often in another co-author’s court, or is pending some other development), but only on one single-authored paper at a time.
[For reasons having to do with the academic calendar, many more of these papers get finished during the summer than any other time of year, but many of these projects have actually been gestating for quite some time. (There should be a joint paper appearing shortly which we have been working on for about three or four years, for instance; and I have been thinking about the global regularity problem for wave maps problem on and off (mostly off) since about 2000.) So a paper being released every week does not actually correspond to a week being the time needed to conceive and then write up a paper; there is in fact quite a long pipeline of development which mostly happens out of public view.]