Grad Student Workflow, Part 1

I was recently incapacitated by whatever illness was going around campus and when the fog finally lifted I finally appreciated how productive I am on a daily basis. It was time to triage my to do list and I knew some things were just not going to get done when I wanted them to be. However, since my maternity leave 6 months ago, I have been spending quite a bit of time working on my workflow, so things weren’t as dire as they could have been.

What do I mean by workflow? I mean the tools and procedures I have put in place to make sure that my project gets done in a timely, efficient manner. My project in this case is my PhD. And seeing as ‘project PhD’ is HUGE, I knew I wanted to get these things in place before I really start working on my proposal this summer and dissertation shortly thereafter. What this means is I do the following things (and what’s not on this list is be Mom to an energetic, mobile-enough 6-month-old):

  • reading (a lot of reading)
  • research, including, but not limited to:
    • building software/hardware
    • interviews
    • user testing/deployments
    • observations (both in the physical world and virtually)
    • collecting lots and lots of data
  • service such as reviewing other papers, mentoring students, and helping with the graduate student association
  • writing (a lot of writing)

So, in order to stay sane and get everything done, I’ve been devising a way to automate some of my to do list and task and streamlining everything as much as possible. Some of the tools I use are: Google Calendar, Evernote, Dropbox, NVivo, Todoist, Slack, IFTTT, and Scrivener. I will be going over how I use each of these in detail over the next several blogs. They will be roughly in the following order (to be updated with links as they are posted):

  1. Task Management – Part 2
  2. Reading – Part 3
  3. Writing – Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
  4. Data Collection and Management
  5. Emails

3 thoughts on “Grad Student Workflow, Part 1”

  1. Hello, revisiting. I reread the range of your responsibilities … comparing to myself, I have to teach at so many places, to so many different students, in so many different contexts. But it’s really easy. Maybe not for everyone, I don’t know, but it’s a straightforward thing for me to do a good job without straining myself.

    But your responsibilities are intellectually intense to a degree far beyond my own. As I read, I realized that I have retreated from that kind of work and responsibility. I didn’t want to think. I’ve probably taken a 3-year vacation from thinking.

    Is that good or bad?

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