1. Work when you want to
I am not a morning person. I rarely arrived at the lab before 11 am, but I would often stay late so I still got the work done.
It looks good if you arrive early and do the 9 to 5, but why care how it looks?
If you work directly with others who rely on you being there at a certain time, then you have to be there. Otherwise, just work the hours that suit you.
2. Change the name of your to do list…
… to “things not to forget to do”. That way you can see it as a helpful assistant, rather than a demanding boss.
3. Don’t make promises
Naturally, you want to impress your supervisor; show you’re a hard-worker, and that you can get things done fast.
So it’s always tempting to under-estimate how long things will take, give the best-case scenario… but then if you can’t deliver, you’ll be left making excuses.
Or, if you set a realistic deadline, you can end up thinking it doesn’t need to be done until (insert date), and justifying procrastination.
Instead, don’t make any promises, focus on the process, do things meticulously, and the results will come naturally.
4. Ask for stuff
Are you using a 10-year-old computer to do data analysis? Do you need a highly specialised textbook that costs 200 dollars?
Don’t be afraid to ask for stuff. Some academic departments do still have money! You might not get it, but you should still ask.
5. Start again
Sometimes a a chapter can end up in such a mess that it’s beyond editing. This happens if you write without really knowing what you want to say, or if you write while still doing the basic research.
Often the best way to move forward is to start again, from a blank page, with a clearer idea of what you actually want to say and free from the unstructured mess of the original.
6. Admit what you don’t know
Never be embarrassed. If you admit what you don’t know, it gives you the freedom to ask questions.
7. Read less
But read with purpose. What are you trying to find out?
Take the time to get to know one paper and to understand it fully. Then you’ll be able to easily understand related papers sharing common ideas.
7 1/2 Over to you…
Got any tips you want to share? What have you found to help you work more effectively? No matter how obvious it might seem to you, even the tiniest thing can make a big difference.
Share your research and writing tips below!
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