Happy New Year, time to get organised again!

Happy New Year to all of my followers. I have taken a little time out these holidays, and not looked at anything work or thesis related for just over a week. Now I am getting back into the swing of things and preparing for a year of full time work, PhD confirmation in March and then data collection. There are a number of considerations when planning for this year to run smoothly. These include making realistic timelines and goals. With this ‘realistic’ idea in mind, I will be changing my blogging to be fortnightly for this blog, and monthly for my other blog (One Mad Tatter). I have also gotten back into meal planning in a serious way, and have set up my calendar until the end of March with nutritious weekday dinners that either WH or I can prepare quickly. I have added a Sunday cooking list to the calendar too, so that some bulk cooking and preparation can be done for the week ahead. Today I am making some yoghurt, flat bread to freeze and a big batch of bolognaise sauce to freeze too.

Thinking about getting more organised with my writing and thesis, I was trawling through some draft posts I have on wordpress and found this link to Michael Hyatt’s post on organising Evernote for maximum efficiency. How to Organize Evernote for Maximum Efficiency | Michael Hyatt. Having over 1,000 notes now, I think it is a good time of year to sort and tag my notes to increase my ease of searching in the future. Another feature of Evernote is that you can sort the notes that contain checkboxes, which is great as I am a fan of check boxes, and use them to indicate my ‘to-do’ tasks.

 

Knowing that any plan is only going to work if it is actioned, I’d better get into the cooking 🙂

Fiona T.

 

 

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Paperless…it’s all the rage!

As the title of my blog suggests, I am a big fan of going paperless when I can. I suppose this stems from my earliest years of teaching, when our staff office was mostly destroyed by fire. I am a paper hoarder and stacker,  so my desk was one of the worst affected as it had the most paper on it. This was in 1997, and there was no laptops for teachers at this stage, and only a few computers around for teacher use. It was then that I began to really use the computers (and disks) available to transfer all my planning and work to disk. The following year I began a Post Grad Diploma in ICT, and this added much needed skills and a shift in my thinking in what was possible with ICT, inside and outside the classroom.

I doesn’t seem surprising to me (or my nearest and dearest) that when I started my PhD journey I would need a new laptop, and that this blog has eventuated. I store increasingly more and more in various cloud based archives. For the last 4 weeks of my teaching I have had all of my presentations and resources stored in the cloud and accessed via the internet connection from the computer in my classroom. It has been great. I have also been promoting and modelling the use of EDMODO and our institutions LMS system for my classes.

This week, Thesis Whisperer posted this guest post from Marek Martyniszyn Going paperless part one: your desk « The Thesis Whisperer.  I liked it (I have 2 monitors at work), and some of the ideas resonated with where I have been and where I hope to go with this journey. The comments on the blog are also great, giving some alternative ideas and solutions to ‘go paperless’. So do pop over and have a read.

Like Thesis Whisperer, I find I still print off a few pages each month, these are mostly for formal letters or final proof reading of papers I am writing. I am happy that the majority of my reading is now on Menedely, with my annotations and notes easy to access and share.  My ideas and drafts are now being written into Evernote, using ‘Pomodoro’s ‘ while at ‘Shut up and Write’ sessions. I have also used google docs to collaborate with people on documents. As you can see there are a lot of ideas and techniques coming together for me at the moment, and as I head towards the end of my first year of candidature I feel quite well prepared and supported.

There are lots of ways of going paperless, what do you do? What is your favourite idea for going paperless?

Until next week

Fiona T

Mendeley vs EndNote -Guest Blog Post

This week one of my PhD friends, Hardimah Said,  has written a guest blog post for me. She has recently shifted her reference database from EndNote to Mendeley and agreed to write a review on her experience with Mendeley:

“I had heard about Mendeley quite a few times from friends and from reading some academic blogs, but I never really gave it a thought as my EndNote was doing a fine job for me so far. Until, recently, I came across this blog (a link recommended by one of the phdchat twitters, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/08/20/organisation-research-library-mendeley-convert/
and I don’t know what ‘special’ effect this blog had, but it made me want to instantly give it a go. I surfed the Mendeley website and 30 minutes later I had a Mendeley account and all my references from EndNote were transferred to Mendeley too.

One feature of Mendeley that I love is that it allows the detailed notes on the right side of the same window. Whereas for EndNote, any specific reference that I want to look at in detail, will need to be opened as a new window. I also like the read and annotate feature which I can’t do in EndNote. And I found that whatever EndNote can do, Mendeley can do it too; such as the Microsoft Word Plug-in.

But overall, what I like the most about Mendeley is what EndNote can’t do*.  The backup feature which allows it to be synchronised to all other devices. This is a very convenient feature which is similar to Evernote (another great app that I rely on very much every day). So I now don’t have to worry anymore about updating & saving my Endnote from my office pc to my thumb-drive, and then do the same thing to my EndNote on my pc and mac at home. I have been ‘manually syncing’ EndNote this way for the last 2 years, so the auto sync feature in Mendeley is great. Another good feature which I love is that Mendeley can be opened on the iPhone or iPad, while EndNote can’t.  I usually use my iPhone in bed before going to sleep and so now I can check Mendeley or do some reading before I start dreaming.

For now, these are the reasons why I’m a happy convert to Mendeley although I know there are more great features of Mendeley that I know will be useful to me being in an academic profession such as; sharing papers, collaborating with friends and creating my own profile for own publication.

Hardimah Said.”

Thanks Hardimah! I have been enjoying the sync feature on Mendeley too, it does take the worry out of the backing up process.

I wonder what reference system you (my readers) are relying on? Is it EndNote, Mendeley or another program? As always, feel free to share in the comments below, or over on the facebook page.

Until next week,

Fiona T

*At this time ( October 2012) we don’t have access to the latest version of EndNote via our institution. Thanks to Tilla from EndNote for her comments about the increased functionality of EndNote6.  (Blog post updated 16th October 2012)

Evernote Review (Part 2)

So I have had Evernote downloaded for almost a week. It is an amazing application. I found that I could download a copy of the app to my desktop, and I can add things to it here, with or without net access. Then as soon as I have net access again I can ‘sync’ my desktop version with the web version, and should I be working on a computer at uni and add things to my web version, it will sync with my laptop too … no more accidental overwrites. I am thinking it is worth the yearly fee to allow the word docs and excel spreadsheets to be backed up also. I have a feeling I will use it heaps. You can also download (free) Evernote for any computer system and most mobile devices, including I-Phone and Android.

My LT is having great fun with the audio capture feature, he is re-enacting his favourite TV scenes and also reading aloud from his books onto it. (Teachers: I am thinking easy evidence for learning documentation here.)

Evernote also shares via Facebook and Twitter, allowing the people who access it a view of just what you have sent, not the rest of your files. If you do want to share whole files (for example with a study group) you can email the link to those in the group and they can access that notebook. All of this, and they don’t even need an Evernote account! Great Huh?  Ok, I am quite excited about this and really wish I had looked at this in more detail a couple of months ago. I will continue my search for the ‘free’ storage for all my documents option, but until then I am having such fun with Evernote, and converting my colleagues and friends to use it I think I will just enjoy it for a while…oh and perhaps get back to the reading and writing for that study thing I was doing…what was that called again??? LOL.

One of my friends has just this week talked about Onenote, which is the MSoffice version of Evernote, but a little different. Here is a review of them both: http://www.onenotereview.com/

I am going to meet up with my IT Guru friend soon for her to demo Onenote…but at this stage, Evernote is free so it will be the flavour of the week, for this week at least 🙂

Yesterday I found out about digitwirl, an American site that offers short video clips of tech reviews, aimed at showing you how to use things like ‘evernote’ easily to organise your life. Here is a link to their Evernote clip.

What ICT/Software do you use to help you get organised?

What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 1/3)

The idea of the paperless office is not a new one. With the increased availability and simplicity of computers it is a term that is bandied about a lot. Today there are even more devices, software and networks that can make this ‘paperless’ idea more fact than fiction.

Late last century (1998) I began postgraduate study, and then continued my studies to complete my Masters by research. I completed these studies just under 10 years ago. Study during this period meant attending lectures in the evenings after full time work, completing readings, research and assignments on weekends. Research on weekends always meant going into the uni campus, finding a seat at a reference computer (yes, they had different computers for everything) and looking up various databases to find articles. Then you would write down the reference numbers of the articles and go to either a) find a book/journal on a shelf , to read and photocopy 0r; b) find the microfiche (tiny pieces of plastic that had the articles printed in teeny tiny writing, which could only be read using a microfiche reader and then photocopied from there).  This took ages and cost a lot of money in photocopying…oh and filled up folders etc with articles you may only read once then never use again. Sometimes what you needed was in a book or journal that was not at that particular library or even campus. So an inter-library loan would have to be organised, or if there was no time for that, an emergency road trip to a different University to read or photocopy it from there. Whole days were spent for each assignment doing all that “research” and then the articles read, critiqued and the assignment would still need to be written. EXHAUSTING!

Fast Forward…2011. The INTERNET is an amazing tool. Now we have online journal access, PDF downloads, Podcasts and YouTube. I can find not only appropriate articles and information, I can also find out immediately about the author and if they are truly an authority in the area. No paper wasted, and it all takes only minutes. Oh, and I don’t have to leave home to do it.

A vivid example of this is that just a few weeks ago I received a text from one of my wonderful sisters directing me to read an article in ‘The Age’ that she thought was relevant to my study area. I was on the computer doing my ‘paid job’ so I quickly looked up the article. It was relevant and quoted a professor from the US. I ‘google’ said professor and find a great body of work they had been involved in and a couple of books they had written and edited. Next step is Book Depository, looked up the three books I was interested in, read online reviews and narrowed my choice. Ordered the most relevant book, it was delivered to my door a week later. In under an hour I had sourced and (almost) acquired a book that would not even pop up in an ‘old school’ library search. This is amazing and too easy.

So the research bit is definitely more easily accessible and will mean I can get so much more done to a much better standard because the leg work that used to be mandatory for study is now eliminated. Brilliant 😀

Stay tuned for the next 2 blogs that will expand on this paperless idea. They will explore:

1) the potential of ‘the cloud’ for writing, editing and storage of drafts and papers, and

2) Skype, Ted Talks, academia.com and YouTube and how these tools can open doorways previously unconsidered.

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