I am about to finish a phd in economics (couple of years left). I am in good shape:
- I have a nice on going solo authored paper
- I have a co-authored paper submitted to a journal and waiting feedback
- One other large project on-going with another co-author
- I starting to work on a new project that requires heavy computation.
Now here's the thing. At the moment I have a lot of dead time.
Paper (1) - I do not feel there is much I can do now. I am presenting the paper in couple of places in the Summer and hope to get feedback.
Paper (2) - We are waiting for referees to come back to us.
Paper (3) - I am waiting to discuss with my co-author next steps - he is on holiday for the next 3 weeks.
Paper (4) - I have setup what I could on this paper. I am running preliminary results (but the codes take up to 4 days to run).
The key question is what to do in the meantime. Of course, I could work on paper (1) a bit more, but I feel that productivity is low on that one at the moment. I could start something new as I have some ideas on the pipeline, but I am avoiding this as something might come up unexpectedly on papers (1), (2) or (3), and giving a false start to a new project might not be optimal.
Edit: A suggestion below was to learn a programming language. However, I am "fluent" in Fortran, Matlab, Python, Stata and SAS ... and I have no use at the moment for other languages.
I could always read papers, but how much can you read if do not have a proper goal in mind?