My first post on here was a little bit about surviving procrastination and ways to avoid getting distracted and one of the tools I mentioned was effective use of planning/ planning devices.

I have yet to master the art of planning, I am fairly random in my approach to life, I tend to wing it and this has really caused a few problems since I began academia I can tell you.



I work much better under a little stress, so long deadlines are anathema to me. I just can’t get to grips with the ‘slow and steady’  need to be’ a tortoise not a hare’ mindset. When I started the end posts seemed impossibly long way away where as now they seem improbably close!

I have a finite amount of time left in which to capitalise on my research and to write up my final thesis so this word ‘planning’ which everyone kept banging on about when I was a fresher is looming very large in my conscience and I am having to take a long hard look at how I structure my day! See there is another concept that I am ambivalent about – structure.

One major problem is – I have never really worked out what is the most effective form of planning! 

I have tried using google calendars ( a suggestion made in one of my early researcher guide classes) to plan out blocks of time and schedule other events, it simply became yet one more thing on the to do list! I have had PDAs, phone apps and computer software all designed to ‘help me be more productive’ but I seem to spend more time figuring them out than actually putting them to good use and this usually results in me flinging them across the room accompanied by lots of really bad sweaty words  abandoning them in frustration, wondering why it is everyone else seems to have mastered ‘endnote’, ‘scrivener’, ‘evernote’ and the like. I ever bought a scanner pen to make note taking easier … but it was so temperamentally difficult I seemed to spend more time correcting faulting scans that I would have if I had simply written out the notes in the first place!

There is another thing I have never managed to master – effective note-taking!

I promised myself I would work through my ‘iMac for Dummies’ book in the summer months, because I know that the machine I am using is far cleverer than the person using it and it would be good to know how to work it properly it might also explain why it occasionally does random things like scroll, or close windows when I have no idea what I’ve hit, I am sure this would help productivity no end. But that old devil procrastination got in the way!

So this is me putting my hands in the air and admitting – my name is Pimpernel and I am a shit planner!

So the schedule for this week is to get my new outline in to my supervisor, then spend the rest of the week devising a cunning plan (hopefully NOT of the Baldrick variety) in how to plan! I have the multicoloured gel pens and sticky tabs  handy – which as any student knows are the essentials to good planning!

So any advice gratefully received! 


5 thoughts on “Planning Ahead

  1. I have a couple of ways that I try to force my plans into some kind of order – but they don’t work that well. I do tend to work from the bottom of a pile of paper outwards. But, for what it’s worth, here are my strategies:

    Whiteboard – scribble thoughts on whiteboard, take pictures and load onto computer. That way you can trace the development of your thought, and capture it for perpetuity. I also explain the contents of the board to a good friend (thanks Em), who challenges me, and makes me clarify what I’m saying before I take the photo. If I don’t have my whiteboard handy, I use post-its and a wall. But, I always take a photo of it, as psychologically this pushes me towards completing what I’m doing.

    That and the holy trinity of MacBook, iPhone and iPad, all of which have my calendar on them, and can be synchronised.

    But, perversely, I use a paper diary for my teaching. Weird? Oh yes.

    1. As yes I was just saying I’ve taken to mind-,mapping on a whiteboard for writing and structuring but not for note taking. Not sure that would work for me as my notes are always what go to for references etc? I have taken photos in the past as well – we are clearly working to a similar pattern – this is reassuring to me!

  2. Ouch, your post stuck a chord with me. I am also in the ‘shit planning camp’ – sure I make a stab at it, but I do find it difficult and it’s always too easy to tweak things and before I know it I’m way off course.

    I also find stress a positive tool and like you I don’t work well with long deadlines.

    As for effective note taking I’ve recently become a convert to mind maps. I’ve discovered that I can memorise these and the picture/content remains in my brain. I also stick them up in different places in the house. I have mind maps beside the cooker – so making scotch pancakes in the morning doubles as a memory jog time for me.

    As for procrastination – boy I’m with you there – must do better me thinks!

    1. You have time to make Scotch pancakes in the mornings – I am in awe! 🙂
      Mind-mapping – yes I do this on my whiteboard (geeky or what) … I am starting to convert to it for writing but I still need actually linear notes for researching.

  3. Please don’t be in aw, pancakes are a doddle and take 5 mins, plus cooking is my de-stresser. Also I’ve discovered joyfully that if I’m standing at the cooker no-one in the house expects anything else of me so I get to stand there flipping pancakes, drinking my tea and getting lost in my mind maps. A cunning strategy me thinks.

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