Sunday, April 20, 2014

iProcrastinate Podcasts - Because you know you do!

One thing I've enjoyed during my long trips between home and Richmond is podcasts. I usually listen to "Wait Wait - Don't Tell Me" or "Car Talk," but since December I've really been struggling with procrastination. So a Google search on the topic brought me to iProcrastinate Podcasts, which are produced by a psychology professor in Canada named Dr. Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University. His website is www.procrastinate.ca.

Dr. Pychyl's podcasts often have easy to implement strategies for overcoming procrastination.
As a graduate student, I really appreciated how much Dr. Pychyl integrated his own research into his podcast discussions. I think he captures the essence of procrastination really well in his explanation of it as a way to emotionally regulate when we are faced with an averse task. Whether true or imagined, we come up with ways of thinking about tasks that put us into an emotional state that makes us want to feel better - and fast. So instead of sticking with the task, we "give in to feel good" and do something else that will make us feel better in the short term. That's just the beginning of how he explains procrastination, so check out his website for more!

He wrote this fantastic little book called "Solving the Procrastination Puzzle" (renamed from it's former title, The Procrastinator's Digest) in which he provides a short but concise summary of how to understand procrastination, and how to learn strategies to deal with it.

Dr. Pychyl's book on understanding and overcoming procrastination.
If you think, "well, if I get off task by listening to or reading this stuff about procrastination, isn't that just reinforcing my problem?" I, too, had that same thought. But I promise, a little time invested here will pay off in the long run. I read the book in early 2014, and reinforce the ideas with a podcast every time I'm in the car traveling for more than an hour. I can't quantify for you how much this information has translated into hours of productivity, but it's done a lot for my emotional health, and self confidence - when I'm starting to get down on myself for being my own worst enemy, I just turn to these strategies and before I know it I'm confidently moving on from my procrastination temptations.

Graduate students aren't the only ones dealing with procrastination... and Dr. Pychyl's ideas are translatable beyond the student life. Professors, business people, even if you're just looking to stop procrastinating from your health & exercise goals, I think this could be of help for you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Connections: Everything you wanted to know about publishing your article but were afraid to ask

http://www.rwjf-newconnections.org/publishingwebinar2014

This incredibly practical and insightful free webinar was offered by New Connections on March 13, 2014, and they graciously posted a link to view the webinar after the fact, along with links to their handouts and slides.

This free webinar offered many practical and insightful tips,
applicable to the new or seasoned scholar!

I found this webinar to be very useful for a number of reasons.

  • First, they DID answer some of my questions about publishing that I was afraid to ask! 
  • Second, they gave insights on the small details that you may otherwise not hear about, such as what to include in a submission letter when you are submitting your  manuscript to a journal. 
  • Third, they discussed great strategies about how to decide on and manage your own publication plan, such as the benefits to choosing a smaller journal to submit to first versus a larger journal with a larger impact factor.
  • Fourth, they gave some great handouts with practical applications that extend beyond just publications, to even the beginning of your research project.
So be sure to take some time to listen to this webinar. I did while doing dishing and cleaning up, and I'll be sure to archive it for later reference as well! 

As a surprising side note, my browser's spell-check doesn't have webinar in it, and the red squiggly line keeps throwing me off my game. Really, Google Chrome?!?

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Professor Is In: How to write your academic CV

http://theprofessorisin.com/2012/01/12/dr-karens-rules-of-the-academic-cv/

As many of you may already know, writing and formatting your Curriculum Vita is very different than your professional resume. I know I've gotten caught up in figuring out exactly what I should/shouldn't include, but I found a resource that spells it all out clearly and concisely! Of course this resource isn't the final word on the matter, but certainly gives a great place to orient yourself when writing your CV. It gives standard conventions and expectations to help you create a highly professional looking academic CV, from what headings to include, to how much detail to add under individual items, and also a useful list of what NOT to include.

Dr. Karen has a great website, full of useful information!

While you're visiting the link, check out the many other useful blog posts and resources on Dr. Karen's (the author) site! Find it at: http://theprofessorisin.com.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Split up your PDF files into separate pages - for free!

I just found something that's pretty life changing (that is, if you consider a simple tech life-hack life changing). So of course I'm going to share it with you, my good readers!

Have you ever found yourself wanting to make a separate PDF file of a larger file, but with only a few of the original pages? I found myself in that situation today with a scholarship form. In order to electronically send the reference letter forms to my references, I wanted to separate out the form from the rest of the application. I researched how to go about doing this by starting with a Google search, and found a brilliant solution: use Google Chrome! Here are the steps:


  1. Download the Google Chrome web browser if you haven't already. It's free.
  2. Open a new tab in Google Chrome. 
  3. From a Windows Explorer window (or your desktop), drag & drop your original PDF file into the Google Chrome window. (You have to do this twice for some reason. The first time you drag & drop it, nothing will happen. Do it again, and it'll open up the PDF file in Chrome.)
  4. Do this twice. The first time you do it, nothing will happen. That doesn't mean it didn't work. Just do it again.
    1. If for some reason this doesn't work on the second try, check your settings to be sure Chrome's PDF viewer is enabled. To do this, type “chrome://plugins” in the address bar without the quotes. Ensure that it's enabled, clicking “enable” if not.
  5. Now, you have the PDF file open in your Google Chrome browser. 
  6. Next, you'll go to Print the file. But don't actually print it. Just open the Print dialogue box.
  7. Now, in the Print dialogue box, click on the "Change" button to change your printer type. Select "Save as PDF". 
  8. Then, in the "Pages" section of the Print dialogue, only select the pages you wish to include in your new file.
  9. Finally, click "Print" and a box will pop up asking you to save your new PDF file. Type the new name, save it, and you're finished!
Thanks to WikiHow for the tip!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Doodle.com - so you can finally get a meeting scheduled!

So you have this really busy group of people who you imagine can't all coordinate their schedules for that one meeting, or even a series of meetings, that you MUST get scheduled. Like a dissertation committee. Enter: www.doodle.com! It's the easiest meeting scheduler I've seen, and it works across platforms and in any web browser (for that one person who doesn't know how to sync her calendar and e-mail). You can use it for free, and if you want to pay to upgrade you can sync it with your Google account. It's super easy to set up a meeting request. Plus if you have multiple possible days but want to use the same time slots in each day, there is a simple copy and paste feature. Another feature I love is the option to let people choose not just yes/no to each proposed time slot, but also "IfNeedBe" for those slots that people could be flexible around if it was absolutely necessary.



Whether you're a busy doc student like me, or just someone who is tired of the seeming endless e-mail chain required to get a group of people together, try out Doodle.com!

Friday, October 25, 2013

toggl.com - Time tracking without taking up time to track it

www.toggl.com

Have you ever looked back on your day, having so many items on your to-do list still not completed, and wondered where all your time went? Or do you feel that you might be giving more time to a project than it needs? Or do you have a job where you want to easily complete your timesheet and export it to your boss or client? Then Toggl might just be the tool you need!


Toggl helps you keep track of your time with a simple click of a button. You can access your account across platforms (e.g., on your computer desktop, on your mobile phone, on your tablet, on any browser with an internet connection). It's available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows.


You can export your tracked time in a spreadsheet format, or you can have it e-mailed. You can even e-mail it to yourself once a week!


How much does this cost? Nothing! You can even make your account via your Google account. There is an option to get more features for $5/month. You can even track your time as "billable" or "non-billable".

Finally, be sure to watch these two videos, which are about 1 minute long each, to get the hang of how to use it.
http://youtu.be/xc_Z19pWllQ
http://youtu.be/8hdCOnW6oH0

Then, download it on your devices, and get ready to open the black box containing the information about where all your time went! For instance, I just spent about 5 minutes researching and downloading Toggl, then about 10 minutes writing this blog post. Easy as pie!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Coffitivity - Just the right sounds to spark your creativity

http://www.coffitivity.com

This is an innovative - and scientifically supported - app/website that gives you just enough ambient sound to spark your creativity! It is a steady stream of just the right volume and type of sound to replicate a coffee shop atmosphere. The science behind it suggests that creative, abstract processing occurs most often in a moderate sound atmosphere (around 70 decibels) versus low (50 db) or high (85 db).



You can download the app for Mac, iPad, or iPhone, or just stream it right from their website. The iPhone/iPad app is $1.99, but the stream from their website is free.

Here's the link to the journal article that supports their product: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665048

So if you can't make it to your favorite coffee shop, or you just want the right amount of sound to ease you into some productive working time, check it out!