Two Years In The Life Of A Grad Student: Time Logging Data

I have had some side gigs in graduate school that involved creating invoices for hourly work—web development, copyediting, research assistance, etc. I used Toggl to log my time. At some point, I realized that I could log all of my work time—not just the billable time. So in 2018 and 2019, I logged all of my work time. In this post, I will summarize the 2018 and 2019 data and mention some take-aways for 2020.

Continue reading Two Years In The Life Of A Grad Student: Time Logging Data

Working Retreats: 3 Productivity Tips?

I recently signed up for and attended a writing retreat. I got a lot of writing done even though I was essentially doing the same thing that I always do: sit at a desk and try to write my papers—I didn’t even talk to anyone, really. I was puzzled about why a group working retreat could be more productive for someone than working on their own. As I thought about it, I came up with three hypotheses based on research on precommitment, scheduling, and work environment. I shared and explained them on Twitter (see below).

Continue reading Working Retreats: 3 Productivity Tips?

4 Steps Toward A 40-50 Hour Work Week


A handful of people have asked me about my daily and weekly work routine. Some people just want to know what philosophers do all day. Others are looking for ways to impose structure on their work week. In this post, I will share four (probably predictable) steps that have increased my productivity and lowered my stress.

Continue reading 4 Steps Toward A 40-50 Hour Work Week

How I Learned To Love Academic Reading


When I read visually, I tend to read very slowly. Like really, really slow! A 30-50 page text can take an afternoon if I’m not terribly motivated and also distracted. Of course, my job requires me to do hundreds of pages a week. So I cannot do all of my academic reading visually. Fortunately, there are other ways of reading. I’ll discuss them below.

1. Visual Reading

When I have a text in front of my eyes, I am very tempted to take my time, read very carefully, and look for ways to appreciate the sections that would otherwise strike me as unimportant. Giving in to these temptations can be foolish. To explain consider a few questions.

  1. Can I finish all of my reading if I take my time?
  2. Does this allegedly important text deserve a careful reading?
  3. Is this allegedly important text actually important?

For much of my academic reading, the answer to at least one of these questions is “no.” In other words, usually…

  • I cannot finish all of my reading if I take my time…
  • it’s not clear that a text merits a careful reading, or…
  • it’s not clear that a text is important.†

Don’t get me wrong, the visual reading method is sometimes crucial for academic reading. If you really want to (try to) understand the nuances of a text (or a series of texts), then careful visual reading, with intermittent breaks for note-taking is probably worthwhile.

But visual reading is not well-suited for every situation. For instance,  Continue reading How I Learned To Love Academic Reading

My Sit-stand Desk


I am often thinking of ways to improve my desk setup. But I’m cheap, so I have held off on buying anything. Instead, I’ve MacGyvered a few desk setups mostly with redundant university stuff (see “Office Space: Desk Setup“). But I recently gave in and bought something to upgrade my desk setup: an adjustable sit-stand desk attachment.

SIT-STAND DESKS

I can’t afford an entirely new adjustable sit-stand desk. Fortunately, there are sit-stand desk attachments. They are made to be used with traditional sitting desks. And some of them are affordable.

Sit-stand workstation

Sit-stand desk attachments are affixed to or just placed on top of your desk. The attachment allows you to work in either sitting and standing positions. Sit-stand desk attachments come in many forms. They vary in size, versatility, cost, etc. I looked through LOTS of sit-stand desk attachments before Continue reading My Sit-stand Desk