Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Academic productivity tips for 2019 (Lauren Gawne)

We may be into the third month of the year already - gasp! - but we can look forward to at least nine months of charged up progress! 

This post, bursting with productivity apps and tips, is cross-posted from Lauren Gawne's blog Superlinguo with kind permission. She published this just as she was starting a year's leave. Thanks for sharing your strategies with us, Lauren! View original post.

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters | unsplash.com
I'm not really into the New Year's Resolutions thing, but a few conversations over my final few weeks at work made me realise that there are a few things I do to make my work life a bit easier that other people don't know about.

Most of it is about filtering out noise. Whether that means you get more done, or just get through a day with less distraction, it just depends on what you want in life.

I thought I’d share some of them here - maybe I’ll need to remind myself when I get back to work in 2020…

You're the boss of your Inbox


Be ruthless about unsubscribing from lists and events that are no longer relevant. For everything else, set up filters. I have a filter for blog stuff, one for the podcast, another for mailing lists that aren't so important I need to see them immediately (but I do like to check them). I have a boss who gets CC'd into so many things that he doesn't necessarily need to act on but should at least see or know about that he filters them off to a separate folder. This way, he doesn't miss important things that he does have to actually think about.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Lab family retreat: building stronger connections (Fung Lay)

As lab-based researchers, we spend so much of our daily waking hours surrounded by people with whom we share work areas, research problems, and our latest findings (good and bad).

We share a lab identity. We are connected. But how well do we actually know our lab colleagues outside of the work sphere? What are their interests? Who are their partners? How much have their kids grown since they last popped in for a visit after a childcare pick up?

In the Hulett and Poon labs, where I’ve been fortunate to work as a postdoc for many years, we make it a point to take time out at the year’s end to reflect and celebrate our collective successes (from grants, conferences, awards, publications to student completions). This could be over lunch (that could span much of the afternoon), a day trip to the zoo (we’ve visited all Victorian attractions by now), or a picnic after a memorable ride on Puffing Billy.

Members of the Hulett and Poon labs. Photo courtesy of Fung Lay.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Advice from Future Dave (David Cann)

David Cann out in the field - literally. Photo by James Hunt (@agronomeiste). 

Dear Orientation Dave,

I'm writing to you from February 2019 so congratulations! You've survived the first year of your PhD.

You can take "dying from excess caffeination" off your seemingly inexhaustible list of things to worry about this year. The great thing about a PhD is the time it affords you to make mistakes, then mop up after yourself and try again. The key to not burning out is reflecting on your experiences, celebrating your successes and tweaking your shortcomings.

So, with that in mind, here's a bit of advice from future Dave:

Don't forget your passport.


Learning to drive a 4WD, giving radio interviews, conversing with farmers who somehow managed to find my number, driving a truck and being invited to join a random country football team's end-of-year drinks – at first, all these things seemed like distractions from my magically-extending to-do list. But, the more time I spend talking with other researchers and mentors, the more I start to see it differently.

A PhD is like a plane ticket – a tool to get you from one place in your career to another. But the skills you develop, the connections you make, and the credibility you build during your PhD? They're your passport. If you really want to go places, a plane ticket isn't worth much without a passport.