project productivity: sunday success + some tips
i am happy to report that i had an extremely productive day yesterday! i spent large chunks of it plowing through my presentation, but since the topic was interesting (the lantus/cancer controversy) and i had done a decent amount of prep work, it didn’t feel like drudgery the way big projects can when they sneak up all of the sudden.
while i LOVE to plan, i’m not always very good about working on big assignments ahead of time. as an undergraduate, i finished many papers in the wee hours of the due date, and i’ve scrambled to finish powerpoints just minutes before lab meeting or journal club. however, since the ‘homework’ doesn’t seem to have tapered off, i think i’ve improved to some extent over the years. i thought i’d take this opportunity to share a few of my tricks!
1. do the reading/research part in advance. most projects (at least in the medical or science world) require a decent amount of reading and research before any real writing or creating can be done. sometimes putting together a paper or presentation can seem daunting, making it hard to even want to get started (for me, anyway!). however, reading a few papers certainly isn’t all that scary or even difficult. therefore, making a point to begin with this part is a non-intimidating way to dive into a project and get a lot of prep work done without feeling overwhelmed.
over the course of the last 2 weeks, i started collecting and reading papers on the possible connections between long acting insulin analogues and cancer risk. i took notes on these on good old fashioned paper, which meant i could work on this anywhere.
2. break the rest up into pieces.
for my project, these pieces included an outline, turning the outline into slide headings, grabbing screen shots from the papers i had read, adding text, and then finishing/perfecting the presentation. just having the endeavor broken up into discrete entities in my head really helps me to focus and not feel burdened by the whole thing! above is a shot of my initial outline written in my pretty quo vadis notebook (more on that later). i’m more creative on paper (maybe because i get to use my left hand!?) , so things like outlines and sketches are best done technology-free.
3. leave a large chunk of time for putting it all together. for me, no matter how much prep time i’ve put in, i need a solid block to get things finished in a focused, non-rushed way. this means setting aside at least an afternoon to devote to my project. scheduling it in for yourself in advance is a good way to take the pressure off the rest of the time, as well (ie, you won’t worry much on friday if you KNOW you are going to crank it out on sunday afternoon no matter what).
4. chug away, but take breaks. i am the queen of breaks. i wholeheartedly believe in them, especially for bigger projects. i truly believe that they actually HELP your work! i know that while i’m taking a break to grocery shop, the creative part of my mind is still thinking about what i was working on, organizing my thoughts and ideas. similarly, a break from hardcore studying can be perfect for processing and committing information to memory (definitely put that into practice during cramming for the boards!).
a break can be a run, a mundane task, a little blog-reading time, or a completely unrelated task. yesterday when i sat down again after each break, things begin flowing very well even if they had been stagnant before.
here was my ‘divide and conquer’ plan from yesterday. yes, i even plan in my breaks. this has the above benefits, and gives me something to look forward to! in addition, it’s amazing how much more fun a trip to whole foods (or even folding laundry) can seem when it’s a break from something else.
5. enjoy it!
okay, i don’t always advocate this strategy. but as you approach the end (i was in finishing territory) a bit of celebration or reward may be in order! dangling a carrot (or a pumpkin ale) might be just what you need to give you that extra push to finish.
anyway, i’m happy to have had a successful sunday centered around completing my project, and i hope these tips may be useful to some of you (or at least don’t make me look too OCD/crazy).
i heart quo vadis
a little while ago, the wonderful karen from exaclair sent me some notebooks to sample, pretty much making my year. one of them was the unassuming-looking habana notebook, which is made by quo vadis and filled with beautiful, high-quality clairefontaine paper.
at first glance, it looks like a moleskine. now, i am not a hater of moleskine (although i did crack up at stuff white people like‘s take on the ubiquitous black notebooks), but i have to say that this notebook is just WAY BETTER.
the cover is softer and feels more like leather than cardboard, and the construction is quite sturdy. it comes in a nice color assortment, too. but what i really like about this notebook is the paper. oh, it’s excellent! super white, very smooth, and with lines that encourage me to spread out my ideas. the thickness is perfect, so there is almost no bleed-through.
close-up of the pretty rounded corner with logo
a much more professional photo (from quovadisplanners.com)
doin’ banana bread
i didn’t cook yesterday, but i did bake! i pretty much used this recipe, although i did make some substitutions (used half whole wheat flour, opted for brown rather than white sugar, and skimped some on the butter). behold the deliciousness:
off to run! happy new week 🙂
workout: complete rest day! for my legs as well as my hair.
doin’ time: banana bread only. leftover pizza is the perfect post-project meal, i have to say. effort-free, yet spectacular.
reading: see above!