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Friday, 18 January 2013

Is January off to a slow start?

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Here are some tips for boosting productivity in 2013.
Get organised! 
Pat Thomson offers some thoughtful suggestions for planning your year and balancing academic activities in her blogpost 'No New Year resolutions, but definitely some reflections and a plan'.  
If you make endless 'to-do' lists then you might like Remember the Milk. This free app syncs with all your devices (smartphone, tablet, desktop) and offers an easy way to access and update your to-do lists wherever you are. 
Identify your time-eaters  
The PORT website offers a handy series of countermoves for common time eaters such as procrastination and the inability to say "No!". Port is a site offering web-based research training materials, accessible to all from the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies (University of London). The skills tutorials and resources have much to offer, regardless of your discipline. 
Track your progress  
There are many ways to do this but the F’Dometer (PhD2Published) is a good place to start.  It promises to "track your writing journey in a way that suits you: time spent writing, words written...or time AND words." Scrivener has a 'Project Targets' function which allows you to set a word count for both the whole draft manuscript and each writing session; coloured bars indicate your progress.

Over the course of the PhD it is inevitable that you will hit a wall with your writing. There's a number of online tools you can use to take small steps forward. 750 words can help you develop a daily writing habit and even rewards you with points for your word count. The Pomodoro technique can help measure the time spent on different tasks, whether writing, marking, reading, and still ensure you have a break. There are many free versions of this app available, you can even just use a normal kitchen timer. Find out how to get started here.

Increase your motivation 
Although some people think of Twitter as a distraction from work, it can be a great source of inspiration and motivation for postgraduate researchers. The academic writing community come together under the hashtag #AcWri (or you can start following @AcWri). They aim to "...share problems, ideas and solutions, and provide a supportive peer network." You can find a summary of the most recent group chat at PhD2Published.
Or you could set up a monthly writing group here at Leicester. Group Study rooms are available to book in the Library for groups of 4 students or more. Two of these rooms are specifically for postgraduates, so do make use of them. Graduate School Reading Room.

If you have any tips of your own, please share them on our Facebook page.

Good luck for a successful 2013!

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