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A whiteboard is pretty versatile. It can be used many times for many purposes. I use it during meetings and while working alone. In this post, I’ll explain how I use a whiteboard for creating visual aids.
1. Visual Brainstorming
I am very committed to the digital workspace. My library, papers, notes, handouts, etc. are in the cloud (more about that in this post). I do all of my reading and writing on a computer or a smartphone. But very occasionally a physical workspace trumps my digital workspace.
Visual brainstorming is one task for which a physical workspace outshines the digital counterpart. By ‘visual brainstorming’ I just mean Continue reading Visual Brainstorming on Whiteboards for Posters, Slides, and More
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.
- Can I finish all of my reading if I take my time?
- Does this allegedly important text deserve a careful reading?
- 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
I prefer using my laptop with an external monitor. I like the big screen and I like being able to stand. But sometimes I just want to use my laptop the way it was meant to be used: on my lap! Alas, there are a couple of problems with using a laptop on your lap. First, most laptops cannot vent properly on a soft surface. Airflow is blocked and the machine can easily overheat (sometimes leading to internal damage). Second, my lap is too far from my eyes, so I tend to slouch when I use a laptop on my lap. To address these problems, I made a lap desk. In this post I’ll explain how I made the lap desk.
The materials for this are easy to come by.
Wood. I found a wooden TV tray table by the dumpster — have I mentioned that I’m a scavenger? (See “Office Space: Desk Setup“). The tray eventually Continue reading My Lap Desk (And How To Make One)
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.
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 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
Last summer I accomplished less than I hoped to accomplish. I want to do better this summer, so I am looking for opportunities to improve productivity. In the last post, I discussed my daily routine. This week, I’m sharing data about my weekly workflow.
1. Tracking Workflow
I use the Hours app to track my hours. Once I start working on something, I clock-in to that project. I clock-out and switch to other tasks throughout the day as needed. Clocking in and out is quick and easy, so I can even log the momentary work-related stuff I do outside of my typical 8-to-5 schedule.
I like the app. Whenever you start, switch, or end a task, the app gives auditory and visual feedback …it’s weirdly satisfying. Even more satisfying is seeing how much I accomplished at the end of the day.
What I like most is the fact that procrastination feels very different when I am tracking my time. It feels like I am being timed …cuz I am being timed! I find myself more worried about how long I’ve been procrastinating. So I usually procrastinate only for a few minutes at a time.
2. Workflow Data
Once I log hours, I can look at reports within the app or export the data for my own analysis and visualization. So far I have logged data for only three weeks, but I am already learning a few things. Check it out: Continue reading Workflow: Week-To-Week Time Data