I\’m Too Sexy for My Master\’s Thesis

getting organized

Posted in thesis,tips,tools by Rae on 19 May 2006


Note: These are not my books. My book piles are very neat. 

May 12's PhD comic summed up the organizational difficulties a lot of graduate students (and everyone else, for that matter) face. But there are solutions for managing the chaos that is undoubtedly your life, and I'm going to share some of the effective tools I've stumbled across.

There are several books about getting and staying organized, but the one that has the largest and still-growing cult following is Getting Things Done (known affectionately as GTD) by David Allen. Unfortunately I came across this one a bit too late to fully implement for my thesis, but it's changed the way I think about being organized and my productivity has improved. Two very helpful websites on GTD are the 43Folders wiki and Steve Lawson's "Lunch and Learn" tutorial.

Good email management is also important. Steve Lawson recommends reading these two guides: Ole Eichhorn's "The Tyranny of Email," and Mark Hurst's "Managing Incoming E-mail: What Every User Needs to Know." I've read them and refer to them in conversations all the time. I especially liked the concept that it takes three solid hours to get something done. To get in "the zone," you need to eliminate the distractions. Eichhorn tells you how.

I find to-do lists and calendars particularly helpful. I've tried Mozilla's various calendar applications and wasn't crazy about them. I'm generally a list person, so I use Remember the Milk. I can create my to-do lists and have them emailed to me every morning, plus they show up in my blog reader (Bloglines) via an RSS feed. Google Calendar is very popular, but for calendars I prefer a Moleskine. I bought the limited edition one in Commie Red last week and can't wait for 2007!

On Wednesday I linked to an article on overcoming procrastination. A few days ago, Gadgetopia posted that sometimes procrastination can be confused with thinking. While motivational articles and speakers often make me want to strangle someone due to their over-the-top postivity, motivational phrases can be useful without enraging.

Sure, a number of the above links are geared towards programmers and related geeks, but my readers are probably nose-in-book types and can therefore appreciate them just the same. 

Do you have ideas about getting and staying organized at work, school, or home? 


6 Responses to 'getting organized'

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  1. Father Inch said,

    Thanks. I found several links quite useful vis-a-vis my dissertation work.

  2. Rachel said,

    Great! I hope all that link reading doesn’t turn out to be a distraction from your work.

  3. Marvin McConoughey said,

    Turn off the computer for a week. Take out a pencil and large eraser. Start writing. Don’t stop.

  4. meddling kids said,

    Do you have ideas about getting and staying organized at work, school, or home?

    Yes: My wife and I had a baby. That put a LOT of things in context and forced me into hyper-focus, get-things-done mode. It worked like a charm for me.

    I don’t suggest that strategy for anyone else, however.

  5. Rachel said,

    Thanks for your post, meddling kids. Getting pregnant right now probably wouldn’t be such a good idea. Morning sickness, fatigue, and a thesis doesn’t sound like the greatest combination.

    However, the mothers I know who are post-pregnancy and in grad school seem to be very focused and organized. They have to be.

    I’ll keep all that in mind prior to doctoral work. 🙂

  6. Rachel said,

    Hmm. That should be don’t.

    Thanks for your comment, Marvin. The last time I went for a week without using a computer was on my honeymoon. That was five years ago and I don’t anticipate another honeymoon until we celebrate our 10th anniversary. Yes, I have an addiction, and now’s probably not the best time to deal with it!

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