Contrary to what many grad students believe, the key to completing research, satisfying your academic expectations and finishing school isn’t just ‘hustling.’ The idea of working yourself to exhaustion may be popular but it’s rarely the route to success.
You don’t need to work harder and longer—you’re already immersed in grueling academics. You need to work smarter by implementing strategies and tools that help you research, write, and stay organized in record time.
Right now, a full day of good work with free time to spare may be a rare occurrence. But thanks to these five time-saving tips, you’re about to be on the cusp of achieving a productivity level that’s not only healthy for you, but also keeps your advisors impressed.
1. Embrace the Kindle reading approach
While it’s true that a small, limited Nielsen Norman study revealed that most people read faster in print than on e-readers, that doesn’t mean you should avoid the Kindle or Nook. In fact, switching to e-reading can be a major time-saver, despite the slower reading speed.
There are a few important reasons why:
You can take your research anywhere. Carry all your research PDFs, ebooks, and even interview transcriptions on a small tablet or your phone. No more “Whoops, I don’t have that document on me.”
Reading can happen anytime. Pulling out a physical book or a binder of papers takes more commitment than you’re willing to have on the bus or while waiting at the dentist. Pulling out your phone for a few minutes here and there? Easy.
Note taking is very intuitive. You can quickly highlight important quotes and take digital notes that are saved in the cloud. This makes them much more easy to recall than physical notes hidden within thousands of pages.
Reading is a major part of grad life
Adjustable brightness and the ability to quickly switch between books are benefits that can offer you a much more flexible and intuitive research and reading experience.
2. Automate interview transcription creation
In academic research It’s not uncommon to have to interview 30 sources for as much as an hour each. And once you have those audio files, you still have to go back and transcribe the conversation—a miserable process.
Play. Pause. Type. Play. Pause. Type. Repeat.
Those thirty hours of recordings often turn into sixty hours or more of transcribing. It’s an insane time-eater. Thankfully, this is one area that’s seen some dramatic innovation.
Speech-to-text software has come a long way (the days of furiously yelling “speak to a representative” to your phone are mostly over). Now, transcription bots can turn your audio or video into text in less time than the original recording.
This means you don’t have to waste days or weeks transcribing interviews. And you won’t have to pay an insane amount of money to outsource the work.
This is what it feels like to let bots create your transcriptions for you.
You upload your files, the AI does the heavy lifting, and you get transcriptions ready for last-minute revisions just minutes or hours later.
3. Make the research come to you
Manually searching for data and research will never go away completely, but new innovative tools are making it possible to funnel research directly to your inbox for you.
You certainly know about Google Scholar, but did you know that the search engine also has a built-in email alert system? Input your keywords and let Google automate a large chunk of your research.
Another way to streamline your research process is to setup an RSS reader that collects new stories from journals you follow. We favor Feedly and NewsBlur. You’ll be amazed at how much time you save when you don’t have to visit each website individually.
4. Take all your notes in Evernote
Though the software once felt a bit antiquated, Evernote has once again proven itself to be a powerful and relevant tool for anyone who takes loads of notes.
You can take quick and detailed notes , attach all sorts of multimedia, link to research online, and search through it all on any device. It’s a strong one-stop-shop for organizing research in a personal searchable database.
Many grad students stick to Google Drive, but—while we love it—it’s not nearly as streamlined EverNote when it comes to taking and accessing notes efficiently.
5. Take care of yourself
The worst thing you can do for your productivity level is to ignore your own personal needs. As a complex person, you need exercise, healthy food, time alone, time with friends, and hobbies outside of your research duties.
As someone with very little free time, you probably wish you didn’t have those needs. But fail to fuel those parts of your life and you’ll quickly burnout, lose focus, and probably experience stress or depression (both of which are common among grad students).
The time you save by maximizing your reading opportunities with e-readers, by organizing your notes in EverNote, by setting up research collection funnels, and by automating interview transcriptions should be reinvested into yourself.
Get a little more sleep, wake up a bit earlier for a quick workout, or treat yourself to a spontaneous dinner with friends. The mental health benefits you receive from personal reinvestment will only boost your productivity in the long run.
Not only will you be saving even more time, you’ll feel like a balanced person again.
We’d love to help bring you back to balance and save countless hours by getting you started with Trint’s AI-powered transcription software. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll cut your transcription time from days and weeks to minutes and hours.
Michael Nelson-Wolter, Marketing Manager
Michael worked for 8+ years as a manual transcriber in the US and UK before building an in-house transcription department for a mobile-to-web software company. He then moved to content marketing, followed by digital marketing. Michael loves to write about emerging technology, digital trends and the ways technology makes our lives easier.