Monday, 6 April 2015

Organisation 101: PhD Edition

I'll be honest: I'm not naturally an organised person. I misplace things; I forget the dates of appointments, and misremember the time. So I have to work extra hard to remember where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing, especially now that my week is divded between work and research.

Laptop. Although it's quite hefty, you'll normally see me lugging around my laptop. This is mainly because I've started using Evernote to take and organise most of my notes. But it also means I can quickly look up references, order books, and add events to my calendar.

'To Do' Book. I find I need goals to focus my mind. So I use this grey notebook to make a plan for each week: what I'm aiming to read, topics I want to write about and questions for my supervisors. More importantly, I use this notebook to set five objectives for each day I'm studying. This means when I always have a sense of direction for my research. (On a sidenote, this notebook is really unglamourous. Any suggetsions for a new look? I think gold spots would be nice.)

Bright and Cheerful Diary. I use this for remembering appointments as and when I remember them. (I have an unfortunate habit of completely forgetting important events if I don't write them down!) But, I also use it to keep a record of the hours I work every day. This sounds a bit anal, I know, but hear me out. By keeping an honest record of when I work, I'm able to figure out my lull periods. So far I've learned that my most productive study days start well before 9am. It also means that I have to be a bit more objective about my work. I can see clearly what I've achieved and how hard I've been working. In a long-term project like this, I think that's important.

My mobile. I know, who doesn't carry their mobile? But I do use mine as a study aide too. Sometimes, I find it much easier to snap a picture of a complex diagram to include alongside my notes. Because I'm using Evernote to take my notes, it's easy to take a photo on my phone, and sync it to my work.

Brightly coloured pens. I know, I only have one pen in the picture so this is sort of a cheat. But! It's only because I left my pens at my desk. When I want to clarify ideas, brainstorm, or plan a piece of writing, I find coloured pens are the best way to organise my ideas. I like these because they're fineline and look really pretty.

Do you have any tips for keeping organised? What are your must-haves?