Productivity Tools for Academics, Lawyers, and Professionals

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Productivity doesn’t have a finish line; it’s an evolving set of methods, skills, and task management habits. This is especially true when considering productivity tools for academics, lawyers, and professionals. Some time ago, I wrote a post offering some advice and links to productivity tools I found useful. I thought it was time to revisit the topic and reflect on what I’m finding most helpful now. This article is part of our effort to offer advice for research tasks and professional development, like using plain English writing, research libraries, reading and note-taking, submitting and presenting conference papers and journal articles.

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Technology and Programs: Productivity Tools for Academics, Lawyers, and Professionals

Scrivener: Scrivener is the go-to app for writers of all kinds, used every day by best-selling novelists, screenwriters, non-fiction writers, students, academics, lawyers, journalists, translators and more. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing.

Endnote: EndNote X9 is the reference management software that not only frees you from the tedious work of manually collecting and curating your research materials and formatting bibliographies but also gives you greater ease and control in coordinating with your colleagues.

Things: This is the desktop and iPhone application I use to implement and maintain my GTD system for information and task management.

Lifehack: includes a list of Free Computer programs as well as other applications useful for scholars.

AppSumo: An alternative for entrepreneurs and creatives is APPSUMO.

FreeMind: a free, fully functional mind mapping program! I’ve been using it for quite a while now.

FocusBooster: This is a free timer that I highly recommended. It will also help you if you are applying the Pomodoro technique to your academic (or any other kind of) writing. If you’re using an android, try pomodroido.

Lightroom: I highly recommend Lightroom. I use GIMP in conjunction with Lightroom for a fully functional post-processing suite. While I love photoshop, GIMP is a free version that has many of the same features although you need to be online to make full use of the help, manuals, and hacks.

One Note: this is included in the Microsoft Office Suite, but if it’s not for a few dollars more you can buy it as an add on. I use OneNote and Outlook for my version of GTD. I love the way they work together, so I keep my Inbox at zero as much as possible and my life in some direction.

Smart Phone Applications

Smart Phones have come such a long way in the last 10 years! In fact, this is a category that didn’t exist the last time I wrote about productivity for researchers!  Many of the applications discussed above have android or IOS applications.

Bibliographic Solutions

Use something!

There are lots of solutions on the market. I use Endnote. I know quite a few people who use Zotero and another few you use RefWorks. Find something that allows you to Cite while you Write (CWYW) – that integrates with whatever wordprocessing program you use). CWYW has saved me hours and hours and hours. Because of this technology, referencing and citation are enjoyable rather than a chore. Start this early – I started as an undergrad, and I am appreciative for this almost every day!

Blogs and Websites for Productivity Tools for Academics, Lawyers, and Professionals

Thesis Whisperer: This is a favourite of my PhD Committee. The Thesis Whisperer is edited by Associate Professor Inger Mewburn, director of researcher development at The Australian National University.

Lanham Paramedic Method: The best guides for this include – Purdue Writing Lab,

Academic Lifehacker: Advice for students with an emphasis on time management and academic efficiency. This post on dividing your workweek has me thinking about changing things up a little.

What’s Best Next: It is a general site, not specifically for academics but I find the approach of What’s Best Next interesting and useful! What’s Best Next has great advice on project management including planning, multitasking, and controlling your inbox.

I’ve been working on applying GTD to my life and work for a few months now. I’ve Mike Kaspari’s Getting Things Done in Academia helpful along with GTD for Academics.

Charlotte Frosts’s Phd2Published has some great material although it is no longer being updated actively.

GradHacker has some great material on how to be productive rather than just looking like you are.

Protoscholar has the tagline, a PhD is just the beginning. Navigating the twilight zone of moving from Student to Scholar. Examines productivity tools that can help you stay ahead of the curve (or just make your life easier). Also has basic advice about the Dissertation writing process and generally negotiating the PhD.

Dave Parry (academicdave) of ProfHacker still produces some of the best material, advice and keeping track of things around.

Academic Productivity: This is a delightful little blog by a group of researchers. The design could use some work and it appears they aren’t posting much anymore but the content that is there is excellent!

Productive Scholar: a website devoted to being more productive as a scholar, includes work and life balance, technology, research optimisation (including ways to keep up to date on the latest research in your field automatically).

Guide to Location Independence

For more information about how we make remote work and location-independent work practically functional, see our practical guide to location independence.

Are there any others you’d suggest? What tools/programs/tech do you find most add to your productivity levels?