Productivity Tips for Researchers

Productivity Tips for Researchers

The holiday season is fast approaching and can be one of the busiest times of the year. As a result, it can become really difficult to keep up a work-life balance at this time when family and friends are calling you to enjoy the season with them as the work continues to pile up. Using these productivity tips, you can get more work done, faster, helping you keep everything in balance.

Use a task manager

A post-it note with your to-dos scribbled on it might not be cutting it anymore. Upgrade yourself to a nice planner or bullet journal that makes you excited to plan your week. Looking for an online solution? Try Todoist, an online task manager that allows you to create task lists based on projects. You might also try the high-powered task manager for Mac, OmniFocus, which offers many of the same great features.

Know when to say no

Realize it is ok to decline meetings or commitments that will have no productive outcomes. This does not mean turning down every opportunity that won’t benefit you directly, you still want to maintain positive working relationships, but it does mean being careful when making commitments. Be realistic about what you can handle and prioritize.

Use a dual display Having two monitors for work on the computer can be hugely useful. For example, having your data open on one screen and the text you are writing on another can save you time from switching back and forth between tabs and having to find where you left off.

Put the phone away

This might seem obvious, but your phone can be a major distraction. Your brain is wired to want to look and notifications and feels rewarded by them, so it can be really hard to avoid picking up your phone. We recommend leaving it in another room all together and using an app to monitor how much time you spend on your phone each day, once you see how much time is being lost here you may be inclined to change your habits.

Set aside time for email

Answering your emails in batches, rather than as each one comes in, can save you a lot of time. Studies have found that it can take up to twenty minutes to get back to optimal focus after a break to reply to an email. Turn off mail notifications and set aside a block of time in the morning and in the evening to reply to all of the emails you receive. This can also make you feel more in control of what may feel like a never ending email cycle.

Use the urgent/important principle

Created by President Eisenhower, the urgent/important principle is a testament to his belief that great time management means being effective as well as efficient. In other words, we must spend our time on things that are important and not just things that are urgent. The distinction is that, important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals while urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else's goals. According to Eisenhower, the order of priority should be: important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not important and not urgent. While this might not apply to every situation, thinking in this way can help you to allocate your time better.

Consider trying the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes. There are lots of apps and websites to help you time the intervals, we really like this one.

Know when you work best

If you are a morning person, schedule a few uninterrupted hours of work in the morning and schedule meetings or lighter work in the afternoon. If you find your productivity is highest after lunch, do the opposite. Additionally, don’t feel trapped by the traditional 9-5 schedule. If you work best from 9pm to 12am, find a way to make that work for you.

Use a data collection tool

Collecting data digitally rather than in a lab notebook, can save you from entering data later and can save you from starting over if you lose a page of notes. A data collection app, like Conseris, can do this and more with customizable data entry forms, intelligent algorithms that identify trends, and eye-catching graphs that present your data. Learn more here:

Don’t ignore self-care

As you get busy, it can be easy to push through and ignore your own needs, but in the long run this will decrease your productivity as you face burnout and exhaustion. Prioritize sleep, healthy meals and whatever else helps you stay refreshed and focused. Maybe that is a morning yoga class or 15 extra minutes to play with your dog, whatever it is, make time for you.

We hope this tips help you feel calm and confident as you balance work and life commitments this holiday season. Do you have a great productivity tip? Share it with us on Twitter, @Conserisapp!