Category Archives: Productivity

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Researching While Administrating

a pile of binders

Although at ProfHacker we tend to write from the point of view of faculty members, it’s also the case that many folks will move into an administrative, or at least quasi-administrative, role for some period in their career. (I’ve seen departments where everyone takes a turn being chair, for example.)

It’s a mistake to think of a shift into administration as necessarily a death knell for one’s research, although obviously the pace or focus of that research might change. (This is a topic of spec…

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The Privilege to Write

Girl and boy writing on Blackboard

[This article is co-authored with Chris Gilliard.  Chris (@hypervisible) has been a professor for 20 years, teaching writing, literature, and digital studies at a variety of institutions, including Purdue University, Michigan State University, the University of Detroit, and currently Macomb Community College. He is interested in questions of privacy, surveillance, data mining, and the rise in our algorithmically determined future.

The article is also inspired by public and private conversations…

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Take Notes with a Structured Template

books

As Jason recently reminded us, ProfHackers love to take notes. We’ve covered lots of tools and approaches to recording and searching notes, but few of these posts cover much detail about the content or structure of the notes.

As Lincoln noted in “Take Better Notes by Paraphrasing,” if you paraphrase,

You end up with a record not just of the source but of why it is important to your research. And . . . by paraphrasing while taking notes, you’ve already done some of the work towards producing a…

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Improve your Writing with Expresso

espresso

I write. A lot. But I don’t get edited very often, and I am terrible at revising my own work. I came across this little tool, developed by Mikhail Panko, a PhD student in computational neuroscience, called Expresso. You paste your text into a text box and it gives you a number of metrics directly in the text. It aims to help you find “weak spots” in your text, as well as encouraging you to paste the text of writers you admire to compare styles.

I decided to take it for a spin with my own writin…

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Focusing on Time Management Probably Isn’t Great

Stress management book with broken cup
So, the post I wanted to write for today relied on a link I’ve saved in Instapaper, which at last count has been down for a full day or so. Not great. But sometimes, the gods of Twitter are friendly, and someone will randomly post a link to the month-old article you’d wanted to write about, and all is well with the world.

The article in question is Oliver Burkeman’s excellent “Why Time Management Is Ruining Our Lives.” Burkeman’s article is exactly what it says on the tin: a strong assertion th…

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Why have multiple email applications on your phone?

Email applications installed on an iPhoneGiven that it was barely two weeks ago that I recommended decluttering one’s gadgets, it might seem odd for me to keep multiple email applications on my phone, but I do.

There’s a reason for that. In an effort to maintain some semblance of work-life balance, I’ve turned off all email notifications on my phone (even icon badges — I don’t want my email checking me), and I make it a point not to check work email after early evening.

Reading email from family and friends, however, doesn’t feel lik…

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Making Time for Deep Work

cat on desk

As Jason noted a year ago in his review of Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Newport’s central claim will seem familiar to many academic readers: deep work — extended concentration on challenging problems — is both extremely valuable and difficult to commit to. If you’re used to jockeying among multiple browser tabs and responding to notifications all the time, your brain will crave that extra stimulus when you try to settle down to work more deeply….

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Archiving Information in a Digital Age

The Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” is an essential resource for anyone who wants to find information that used to be available online but that has disappeared or to find how a particular webpage has changed over time, perhaps because information was deleted or added. (The Wayback Machine is also quite useful for many other reasons.)

Recently, a number of easy-to-use tools have appeared that make it easier to find information in the Internet Archive or to save current information into the …

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Productivity-Talk Here at the End of All Things

panic button
People always say that one of the great things about academe is its familiar rhythm–the academic calendar, which has its moments of stress, can also be weirdly comforting. It’s also makes it sensible for blogging–it’s easy to know when it’s recommendation season, or when people are likely to be grading, or when a note about starting the semester by committing to self-care might be helpful.

And then sometimes there are weeks like this last one.

Today I wanted to link to two posts that have hel…

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Decluttering your gadgets

A neat, tidy deskIt’s still early in the year, which is often a good time to start fresh by doing some decluttering — and not just of our homes and workspaces. What about the gadgets we use daily: our computers, tablets, and phones?

I was reminded that this is a good practice late last month, when I read Anthony Karcz’s “Ring in the New Year With a Decluttered iPhone.” Though he focuses specifically on the iPhone, he makes a key point that applies to other phones as well — and to computers and tablets:

Old apps,…