Thanks to the recommendations of various friends and mentors, I have tried out many productivity apps/tricks over the years that I would like to share! Here are a few that I have found incredibly useful and beneficial to productivity (in and outside of lab), and will continue to use in 2018:
1. Evernote; Personally, I use Evernote for everything not related to my coursework. It’s my personal journal, my lab notebook, budget manager, and an all-around great general note-taking app. I especially love that it allows you to create checklists. There’s also a handy web extension for Chrome: Evernote Clipper, which allows you to “clip” and save anything from a website, including (but not limited to): recipes, interesting articles, Wiki pages, etc.
2. Session Buddy; Have you ever opened ~a million~ tabs on your web browser as a way to try and force yourself to read all the articles and/or papers you’ve pulled up? Session Buddy is a Chrome extension that allows you to save your browser mess and reopen that can of worms when you’re actually ready for it, instead of slowing down your RAM…
3. Pinned Tabs; If you’re like me, you probably frequent 3-4 different pages important for everyday work; for example, your email, calendar, Slack, messenger, and the list goes on. This very cool hack will solve that problem: a friend introduced “pinned tabs” to me when I saw these cute little mini-tabs on the corner of his web browser:
To keep all your frequent sites in one, easily-accessible place, simply “pin” your tabs: all you have to do is right click on the tab in Chrome/Safari/whatever browser you have, and select “Pin Tab,” and it will sit, comfortably condensed, on the upper-left corner of your browser:
4. StayFocusd; this is an awesome Chrome extension that gives you a daily allowance of x minutes (or hours) on distracting websites that you specify. Personally, this has helped me spend less of my evenings mindlessly reading argumentative threads on Science Twitter. 0 distractions 🙂
5. Paperpile; If you know me in an academic context, I’ve probably recommended (and raved on and on about) Paperpile to you before…Honestly, this might even warrant it’s own blog post, but I’ve found this reference manager to be the best out of the ones I’ve tried (Mendeley, ReadCube, Papers), for the following reasons:
- It integrates with Google Docs, allowing you to seamlessly cite papers in real-time while making other edits with collaborators.
- It has a great Chrome extension that lets you add papers directly from a Google Search or PubMed.
- Has a built-in paper annotator, so you can “highlight” things as you read. (EDIT: The developers are currently beta testing an iOS app that integrates with Apple Pencil. This is great news if you have an iPad, as it means you can now read and annotate in a ~paperless~ and ~portable~ fashion!)
- Backs up instantly to Google Drive, so all your papers and annotations are on the cloud.
…and that’s it! I hope these apps/tips are useful to you in some way, be it organizing your to-do list or going paperless with reference managers. Here’s to a more productive 2018!