I love the comparisons but Oh no no! For me it has not been wise to choose ANY problem at any time. I multi-task with the best of them but I would get nothing done if I didn’t focus. My focus is deconstructing the everyday things in my life to achieve a new or better understanding instead of coasting and assuming. In choosing a lab, you have chosen the focus of your efforts. Sometimes it is a matter of putting your actions and thoughts on hold for a more fruitful environment. These scientific problems of yours can germinate until you feel comfortable presenting these to your current lab so they become incorporated in their aims or until you have other opportunities. In that way your science is a bit like art. An idea comes to mind but there are so many other things in progress that it cannot be addressed at the time. It is put on hold. (That is what notebooks are for. For me, if it is not written down it can be forgotten but I find the more determined ones resurface. Also, when ideas don’t “drift by” it is high time to wake up and look for them.) By the time the idea is addressed, it has modified and is richer for the aging. (Are you hearing the terms “conceptual” and “malleable”?) You do want results and it doesn’t matter to those looking at the final product how you did it. It matters to you and that is why the final product is successful. Focus does not have to be an exclusive activity but it does require prioritizing tasks. Far from “horrible,” decisions and restrictions become freeing.
Art After Philosophy (1969) http://www.ubu.com/papers/kosuth_philosophy.html
Sentence on Conceptual Art (1968) http://www.ubu.com/papers/lewitt_sentences.html
Wall Drawing #1113 http://hirshhorn.si.edu/visit/collection_object.asp?key=32&subkey=14893
The Creative Act (1957) http://www.ubu.com/papers/duchamp_creative.html
Six Years, The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972: A cross-Reference Book of Information on Some Esthetic Boundaries. (also @ Amazon)
Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings, 1975 - 2001 http://www.amazon.com/Decoys-Disruptions-Selected-Writings-1975-2001/dp/0262182319
Semiotics of the Kitchen http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=88937