I’ve always been fascinated by others’ systems: what works, what doesn’t, and how they figured it all out to begin with, which you might have noticed based on my other pieces here at ProfHacker. In this three-part series of introductions, I’ll be looking at the three phases of nearly everything that’s done in academic life: how we plan, how we work, and (to change things up a bit) how we fail. Well, I won’t be looking at those things but I will be sharing with you three interview series that do.

We begin, unsurprisingly, at the beginning. In what I often think of as setting your mise en place, Dr. Ellie Mackin Roberts has been interviewing other academics to explore just how they prepare in a series called How I Plan, “a collection of interviews looking at how people approach their research planning.”


Dr. Mackin Roberts further describes her motivation for the series:

It came from a place of wanting to talk about planning and how important it was, but also because I do talk a lot about how I plan, but that’s not really always that helpful. I’m quite a rigid planner, but I recognised that it didn’t really work for everyone, and I didn’t want to give the impression that there was only one way to plan in academia - and that planning styles had to change depending on where you are in your career.

Touching on everything from contractual loads to the tools being used, the How I Plan interviews provide fascinating insights into how other academics prepare to do some pretty amazing work. Ellie has also spent a great deal of time sharing even more details about her planning and organization on her Youtube channel. If you’re a fan of bullet journaling or project planning in general, her videos are a must-watch.


You can find all of the How I Plan interviews on Ellie’s website and connect with her on Twitter. Next week we’ll take a look at how the work gets done and finish up the following week with a look at how people fail.

How about you? Have you reviewed your own method of planning? Let us know in the comments!

[CC-0 Unsplash image by Estée Janssens]