phdlife

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Broken specimens of the fossil echinoderm, Pentremites! Broken specimens, like this, can be really helpful for taking a peek inside the creature or seeing specific skeletal elements. The lollipop like structures in the top image at the top and on the left are called hydrospires. Hydrospires are thin folds of the skeleton that functioned as respiratory structures. Similar to our lungs, hydrospires are found on the inside of blastoid bodies. This specimen is part of the Sam Noble Museum invertebrate paleontology collection 

Week 47/Vertical (I forgot to post this last week just like I forgot what I ate yesterday)💚🎄💚
13 days to exams and I feel strangely ‘alive’ and super motivated - if you are following my IG stories (if you don’t I stronly recommend it for the coming giveaway😉) you already knew that I have started ‘studying in godmode’ basically sleeplessness or not seeing direct daylight is not taking me down anymore😂
Please guys if you can, please enjoy winter for me - cold weather, hot beverages, sweaters&coats, gift shopping or just being outside!🙌💙❄️

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August 16, 2017

@gradblrchallenge

Day 10 (do I count August 7th as Day 1??) and my first post, I am late comer :/

My Day 9 was a little rough, and today is no exception. My current struggle is getting out of bed before 10am… I took a summer course (May-June), had wrist surgery (so, I couldn’t use my hand at all), then went to a conference, sporadically working on two-three manuscripts, all while working 10-15hrs a week as an RA in another lab. So it feels like my summer break has been nonexistent. My body and brain are just telling me “hey lady, we need you to slow the f$%k down before September smacks us down in our computer chair for three months straight”.

For Today, Day 10 (please correct me if today is not Day 10)

Things I got done…more like procrastination

  • ate breakfast!
  • planned my day in my awesome @quantumheels planner :D
  • answered some emails
  • Tumblr post haha

Things left to do…like real work

  • work on my print exposure manuscript
  • prep recruitment flyers and send out some recruitment emails and posts for a study I am running in an applied linguistic lab
  • groceries
  • pack for a mini 2-day lovers getaway at the family cabin
  • pick up dry cleaning

Shout out to Maya who will be defending her MA thesis the day before classes start. We’re all so proud of her! She had an awesome project and she worked mad hard on it!

Tip Tuesday | Desk Organisation

This week’s Tip Tuesday is all about desks. No matter what set up works for you, one of the biggest things you can do to improve focus and productivity is to ensure you’re comfortable in your workspace, whether you’re working from home or in an office. For me personally, I know that I am easily distracted - by shiny things, interesting things, stuff beyond my current research field - so it’s important that I maintain a tidy, organised space to get the best out of each day I spend working on my thesis or related projects. 

Here are a few photos of my desk at my University (one of seven in the room):

I can hear some of you calling me a neat freak. This is true… of my University desk alter ego. My desk at home is more like a game of Jenga: touch the wrong thing and it all comes tumbling down. 

Why such disparity, then? Well, my desk at home is a space reserved first and foremost for relaxation: I play games, I write fiction, and I binge watch Netflix. It doesn’t matter if I get distracted by a pile of comics or another item. When I’m at Uni, though, I need to be working on my thesis, my article, my presentation, my coursework; any number of things may need completing on any given day, and if I’m getting distracted all the time because a pile of books is in my way or I can’t find that thing I just printed beneath the other pile of things I recently printed, I simply won’t get anything done. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone organise their desk like I do - as I said, everyone is different and the important thing is to ensure that you are comfortable in your workspace - but I will share a few useful tips and items that make my life easier. 


Labels 

You’ve probably noticed that I have a lot of books. I’m currently four books shy of my University’s generous postgraduate borrowing limit, and I have a personal collection which I also keep on campus. However you choose to organise your books (for me it’s alphabetically by author), label the different sections. I currently have five: 

  • Personal (books I own that are relevant to my research).
  • Library (books from the University library). 
  • Bonus+ (an inter-library borrowing service with shorter loan times).
  • Classics Collection (books from my department’s Loeb Classical Library collection). 
  • Article (select texts I need to finish a paper for publication, separate from my thesis).

Not only do labelled sections make it easier for me to find the text I’m looking for, they also prevent me from mixing my personal collection of texts in with library books and potentially returning them accidentally.

Labels are also useful in other areas, such as document trays. I have four different document trays: 

  • Thesis (articles or chapters relevant to my thesis).
  • To read (texts I need to read).
  • Presentation (drafts and notes for my Confirmation of Candidature presentation).
  • Article (select texts I need to finish a paper for publication, separate from my thesis). 

The best thing about labels is they aren’t permanent. When I finish my presentation, for example, I can file away the documents in that tray and relabel it. This is especially easy in my case because I’m lazy and cheap, so I use post-it flags with sticky tape: easy to peel off without residue, easy to replace. 


Book/Document Stand

If you’re doing any sort of writing - for a thesis, a paper, anything - you’ll likely have a lot of reading to do and notes to take but it can be difficult to be constantly looking down at a book, and there is nothing more frustrating than losing your page because a big book flips shut unless you have something laid over it. 

This is where a book stand comes in. They hold up your documents to make them more comfortable to read, and most models come with arms to hold open book pages. They’re all over eBay (I paid $14 for mine, which has a lightweight but sturdy metal construction, rather than purchase a plastic one for $40 locally) and very much worth the investment at any level. 


Screen Stand

In the same vein as the book stand is the screen stand, which gives your primary screen a boost. I was fortunate that there was one available in the office I share, and although simple, it makes a big difference in overall comfort and my ability to work longer hours (with breaks to stand, move, and stretch, of course). Mine is very simple, but there are many designs available, including some which allow you to convert your desk to a standing desk. 


Conclusion

If you’re in academia in any capacity it’s impossible to avoid time at a desk. For most of us, they’re a necessary part of productivity so it’s important to ensure you make the most of your space. Don’t be afraid to add personal touches. I keep a Pusheen on my desk, and beside my name card (not pictured) I have images and posters. You’ll spend a lot of time at your desk, particularly if you’re a postgraduate student, so turn it into a little home away from home.


How is your desk set up? Submit your desk pictures or tips here.