It happens now and again in research, for a variety of reasons: the momentum just skitters to a halt. In my case, it’s because I’ve just finished one manuscript for publication and am about to embark on compiling data for the next. It will be a long, grueling and mostly unexciting affair of spreadsheets and bioinformatics, so I’d like to do a few fun projects on the side to keep me awake for the duration — physical projects, I mean, involving cells and tubes and real, wet biology.

But what to choose? There are so many avenues I might explore, so many genes I might dabble with…and in that grey area between contemplation and action, I feel mired in inactivity. When you know what you want to do, the hours in the lab melt away. But when you’re undecided, the second-hand drags away the moments, one tick at a time.