In my previous post for the ‘How I work’ meme I named my sister, Lucy Cragg, as the person I would most like to see answer the set of questions about working habits. She didn’t take much persuading, but needed somewhere to share her answers. The logical response to this was to offer up a guest post spot on my blog. And without further ado, here it is:
Location: Nottingham, or more specifically Beeston, East Midlands.
Current gig: Psychology lecturer at the University of Nottingham.
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy SIII mini and iPad2.
Current computer: iMac at work, MacBook Air and old desktop PC at home.
One word that best describes how you work: Intensely.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without: I don’t know how I’d work now without Dropbox. It makes working on the same document from multiple machines/locations trivial and allows me to easily share files with collaborators and students.
What’s your workspace like? I’m lucky to have my own office which I try to keep reasonably tidy. I inevitably end up with various piles of papers on my desk but make sure there’s always some clear space.
What’s your best time-saving trick? I’m not sure about time-saving but my best productivity trick is to try and dedicate mornings (when I’m most productive) to research and arrange all my meetings for the afternoons. I check my email first thing and then turn it off until lunchtime so I don’t get distracted. I find this works better than devoting whole days to specific tasks.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager? I sometimes use Evernote for a to-do list but in the office I have an ‘information central’ mouse mat by the fabulous knock knock. In one section I put my morning ‘research’ jobs, another contains afternoon teaching/admin jobs and the third is a list of emails that I need to send (if I remember a message I need to send when my email is turned off I can jot it down here). I also have a calendar print-out on which I will roughly plan out my week with any meetings/seminars first and then fill in the gaps with morning and afternoon jobs. I find this gives me deadlines to work towards for things like writing papers and also stops me doing small but non-urgent jobs just to get them out of the way as I know I’ve allocated them time at some point in the week.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without? I’ve found my iPad much more useful than I thought I would, especially since Emma introduced me to the Bamboo stylus and Upad app. I also think it’s important to have time away from gadgets though. In our house we have a 9pm curfew when iPads and laptops have to be put away.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else? I’m quite good at knowing what I’ve got on, at work and socially, over a good few weeks without referring to my calendar.
What are you currently reading? I usually only read novels on holiday as once I get into a book I can’t put it down and don’t get anything else done. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng is top of the pile for my next holiday.
What do you listen to whilst you work? I usually only listen to music when I’m analysing data or writing papers. The music I listen to at work tends to differ from what I listen to outside work as it has to be something I can’t sing along to – so usually classical or jazz (baroque tag on last.fm is my current favourite).
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? An introvert – I don’t like being the centre of attention. Having said that, I have no problem standing up in front of lots of people to give a lecture or conference talk.
What’s your sleep routine like? During the week I’m usually in bed by 11 and up around 6:30. I always fall asleep easily but often wake up very early when I’ve got a lot on my mind.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see __________ answer these same questions. There are a number of contenders for this. I have a friend who’s studying graduate entry medicine and I’m intrigued how she learns everything she needs to know for exams, however I’m going to pick David Clarke who’s a professor in my department. He always seems the epitome of organisation and I’d like to know how he managed to fit everything in when he was head of department.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The advice about devoting mornings to research, which really has revolutionised my approach to work, came from my friend and colleague Camilla Gilmore. I was also reading a blog post by Radhika Nagpal recently with advice for dealing with academic life. One of her tactics was to have a quota for non-teaching/research things like reviewing papers, one of those extra jobs that academics are expected to do. This is something I find it hard to say no to and often end up doing at evenings or weekends so I’m going to try the quota approach from now on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Nope, I have to stop now, it’s nearly 9pm!