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Staying organized- apps, programs, software.. etc


teamind

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What are some recommendations for staying organized while in grad school? As someone who is notoriously scatterbrained and will be starting a PhD program in the fall I could definitely use some 21st century ways to streamline my notes, tasks, thoughts, etc. 

Anyone have a particular app, program, notebook, or organizing system they couldn't do without?

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Not so much organizing, but for focus, (and I think I've said it before on the forum, but I'll say it again) I swear by SelfControl (http://selfcontrolapp.com/). It's a free app that blocks the internet for a set period of time, and there is (at least to a normal, non-computer genius person) no way to disable it after you've set the timer. 

I also love wunderlist (https://www.wunderlist.com/) because it syncs up on all your devices, and its a really pretty/streamlined to-do list app. 

Lastly, iProcrastinate (http://www.craigotis.com/) is my favourite app for keeping track of deadlines; I especially like that you can view your projects/deadlines by calendar or list format. 

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Evernote is my best friend. It saves paper and easily syncs to all devices either manually or whenever I have a wifi connection.

I make separate notebooks for classes I'm teaching, classes I'm taking, and research. I can clip web pages, link audio notes, etc. etc. I love this app. My daughter prefers Notability.

 

Mendeley for storing and organizing research papers. I have not yet linked the resources to a Word document yet, but will in a few weeks or months depending on when I start wrapping up my final paper.

 

Dropbox for sharing documents, research papers, and outlines with others.

 

There are some really good bloggers who have detailed this well. I recommend doing some searches to get more ideas and reviews.

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Not so much organizing, but for focus, (and I think I've said it before on the forum, but I'll say it again) I swear by SelfControl (http://selfcontrolapp.com/). It's a free app that blocks the internet for a set period of time, and there is (at least to a normal, non-computer genius person) no way to disable it after you've set the timer.

:-o Genius!

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This trick has more than doubled my productivity:  at the beginning of each day (before you check email, Facebook, text your friends, etc) make a 3-item to-do list.  Do not do anything "fun" until you complete all 3 of these items (I block off around 3 hours first thing in the morning to work on my to-do list).

 

For me, it helps me stay focused/organized on my most important tasks and guarantees that I make progress every single day on my "big picture" projects.  YMMV.

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I second the value of Evernote. I use it mainly for research projects (notes, web pages, images, etc.).

 

Zotero is great for organizing your sources and inserting bibliographies and footnotes into your paper. Some people prefer EndNote, so I would compare them and choose what works best for you.

 

I also rely on a (paper, not digital) planner. I mark deadlines and events in the monthly calendar, and use the daily sections to list course assignments.

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I've always kept it pretty simple with a basic Excel spreadsheet to keep my projects organized and prioritized.   I just use basic color coding system: red = 1st priority, yellow = 2nd priority, green = done.  

 

In undergrad, I relied heavily on Microsoft OneNote, and I plan to use it again when I start my PhD program in the fall.  It's great for organizing coursework and projects because everything is always easy to find and access, and you can see all your folders and subfolders at all times (unless you choose to hide them).  I also used it for taking notes because the entire thing is searchable.   It's a lot more flexible and there are more options than just using Microsoft Word.  Also, there is a way you can sync your folders to multiple computers and mobile devices.

 

I've played around with other systems, but I don't like anything too fancy or complicated because it ends up being counterproductive for me. 

Edited by Sadie_Bea
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