Category Archives: Organisation

Daily Notes 20.3.12

Literature Review HQ file naming method

  • ‘Tagging’ ideas
    • Date found
    • Other key authors
    • Who recommended the resource
    • Keywords

#AcWri for Accountability

My studious pal Jenn has come up with a brilliant way of sharing our writing goals with each other (and other academic writers) as a form of accountability: the Academic Writing Accountability program. This initiative works in conjunction with her Studious Network (an online forum for academics) and is communicated via (our best friend) Twitter (using the hash tag #AcWri). Jenn cites the following reasons for creating the program:

Daily writing habit is essential for academic success and this habit can be cultivated through practice.
Be accountable for your own writing by publicly share your writing goal.
Productivity will increase when it is being measured or monitored.
Peer support is the best motivation in academic writing.

I find all of these points relevant to my need for accountability. And the easy access to peer support via Twitter (and the Studious Network) means I am constantly getting feedback from others in my position.

So, what are my goals for Academic Writing Accountability?

  • Write 300 words every day  — this does not have to be writing chapters but can include thesis related blog posts, notes I take while reading,  etc.
  • Make daily updates to my peers (via Twitter using the #AcWri tag) to maintain daily accountability
  • Write a weekly ‘totals’ entry in my thesis journal to record my long term progress


I have decided I need to add an element to my #AcWri goals:

  • Read two articles towards my research every day — this is at least for the short term, while I am still at the very beginning of my thesis

Daily Update 17.1.12

So yesterday I accomplished the following:

  • Read one academic article and one UN convention paper (on the rights of children)
  • Got my haircut (picture to come) — and this morning, after eight months of laziness, I also got my eyebrows re-shaped
  • Did two loads of washing (‘full time’ work over summer has left me well behind in the housework department)

Things I need to start doing more every day:

  • Making exercise a priority (I am not concerned about my weight, I am just concerned that I am becoming physically unhealthily lazy)
  • Having a general clear up around the house
  • Walking Charlie (this is for me, but mostly for him – it is not fair keeping him cooped up so much)
  • Spend time sewing (this is my main hobby and I have neglected it, meaning my quilt is only partially pieced)
  • Read more for pleasure

My goals for today:

  • Email my landlord/boss with notes about cleans I did this morning
  • Read two academic articles
  • Have an overview look at QAG, NGA, and NGV (re: curating for kids)
  • Write a daily schedule (to fit in the above list, plus my studies and with room to do any cleaning work)

What are your plans for today? What are your goals for every day?

Creating Accountability

Martina Lynne wrote the following about accountability (as a way of ‘keeping your sanity’ as a postgrad):

8. Create accountability. This is especially important for the kind of work we do without much supervision, like teaching and studying for exams and dissertating. It’s easy to make those lists and build that structure, but if you have no one to report to but yourself, it can also be easy to slip into a cycle of not meeting your own expectations, making excuses, feeling shitty, and then getting overwhelmed by the mounting overflow work. Instead, make a weekly date with a friend where you report to each other how things are going or create study groups, even if you’re not all working on the exact same materials. Not only will this make sure you don’t drop the ball, but just spending that time explaining what you’ve been working on will help solidify it in your mind and be valuable practice for when you have to explain yourself to — gulp! — exam panels or dissertation chairs or hiring committees.

Unfortunately, I lack peers. And my academic friends are largely online nowadays. As such, I plan on keeping accountability within my journal.

My goals for today:

  • Read at least two new journal articles
  • Read through reading notes and start refining topic
  • Get my hair cut (not an ‘academic’ goal, I know, but I have been putting this off for so long it needs to be crossed off the ‘to do’ list!)
  • Take Charlie for a jaunt at the beach (exercise, fitness, and good health have to become a priority in my life and are no longer allowed to take a back seat)

Laurel Denise 2012 Diary

My Laurel Denise 2012 diary has arrived – huzzah – and I am already thrilled with its functionality. I love seeing my (shorthand) month ahead displayed next to my (longhand) current week of activities. Not to mention, I feel more mentally at ease knowing that my (whole) life is written down in one, organised and logical format. And now, if you’ll indulge me:

The Grand Tour

The doubled, thick card stock covers of the Laurel hide an inside pocket at each end of the diary. Thick, ‘industrial’ styled spiral binding counters the overall femineity of the book. Aside: I do plan on adding a second cover to the diary, as I fear its durability through a whole year.

Top view (so you can get an idea of the overall thickness)

On the first page, a simple monthly goals template is provided (as well as a place for brief personal details, in case the diary is –gasp!- lost, and to which I have added the word ‘reward’*). I plan to use this goal template to write down dates I wish to complete chapters of my thesis.

This first page is also, economically, the first tab: JAN (incidentally, these tabbed pages are a perfectly weighted card-stock). Flipping the page we find a typical layout for the diary: the month overview is displayed next to two columns for the current week, with a monthly ‘to do’ (and some untitled lines) to the far right on the spread. And this opening is exactly the reason I ordered the Laurel, despite its more expensive price point than many other diary options. It is also the reason I (again) did not purchase a Filofax this year – I could never have set up a Filofax in the same way the Laurel is pre-planned for me.

On the monthly calendar I use shorthand to track upcoming work, holidays, birthdays, due dates, events, and so on. This allows me to quickly gain an overall view of the month and quickly judge how busy I will be on any given day. On the dated side of the weekly calendar I list fixed appointments in longhand (job locations, appointment times and places, travel arrangements, and so on).

In the ‘To Do Today’ column more ‘flexible’ items for the day are listed as they arise. ‘This week’ to dos are delegated to the next column, allowing me to complete them as time allows me to do so (as well as giving me a general location to forward plan some tasks). ‘To do this month’ is for larger monthly tasks (things that would take longer than one sitting to complete), whilst the lined area (which runs beneath the flipped weekly pages) is where I can jot quick notes I may need while I am out (currently waiting on a call from the pet store to see about ordering Charlie a new lead).

Yes, I differentiate between pen and pencil in my diary. I am an organising nerd who does not always want to commit to pen for certain events. In February, I am unsure of the date I wish to leave Canberra and come home, so I have left the end of the week in pencil. February also sees the introduction of my next fashionable challenge – I am unsure of the daily challenges, so the dates have been marked in pencil.

After the DEC tab there a double-page spread with list titles supplied: books I’d like to read, places to eat, quotes that keep me going, gift idea, songs to download, websites to visit, and goals for 2012. The following double-spread page provides a 2013 overview, whilst the remaining pages are lined for general use. I can definitely see myself planning some writing goals for 2013 (especially if my life means I have to remain a part-time student) and those blank pages are just begging for some thesis journaling on the go!

What planners are other people using this year? Are you a ‘one life, one diary’ type of person, or do you have a diary for every aspect of your life?

*I always have at least my uni email address on the inside cover of my diaries and folders in case I leave them somewhere. In order to encourage people to return my possessions life, I add the word ‘reward’. I have no idea what the ‘reward’ will be in the end…

Make Do Diary

I am a huge organising nerd and, while I am still waiting for my new 2012 planner to arrive, I had to find a (cheap) stand-in. Enter “Cheapo Student Diary” stage left:

Diary above; notebook below.
Hopefully once my diary arrives, the two will merge more into one.
But I think I will still have a separate notebook for work notes.

Diary on left; nerdy art-tastic notebook on right.
I bought the notebook years ago when my dad lived in Alice Springs.
The cover is Yam Dreaming by Emily Kame Kngwarreye .

You can see how nerdy I am feeling of late in the top picture — I am already mentally planning my non-existent thesis folder! I am waiting on the edge of my seat for summer school (info post to come) and the inevitable trip to Officeworks which will happen on my arrival in Canberra. I already have a shopping list forming — gonna be in so much trouble…

What planner systems are other people using this year? How long do you think you will stick to that system? (Who wants to place bets on the length I stick solely with my Laurel diary?)