I've recently been wondering whether it is better to spend one's time doing research or prepare for competitions like ACM ICPC or the Putnam exam? I currently have the opportunity to participate in some research, but it is very time consuming. That, with my course-load makes it pretty difficult to have time to prepare for such competitions. And anyway, I don't particularly enjoy preparing for them much. My question also applies in context to graduate school applications. Would doing a significant amount of research be valued more than doing fairly well in competitions?