Today’s Essentials: Research Edition (one of many such, I’m sure)

Green Mountain Mocha Nut Fudge coffee:
Tastes completely decadent, but actually it’s helping to keep me focused on everything that I’m trying to accomplish this morning. Yeah, that. And there’s something about the ritual of coffee-drinking that is absolutely essential to marathons at the kitchen table with stacks of articles.

Rachmaninov, Suites for Two Pianos, John Ogdon and Brenda Lucas:
These pieces have such an implacable forward movement that the music seems to propel me through paragraphs and sections and pages and articles, one after the other to ever-increasing heights of productivity. At least, it seems that way to me. This isn’t the music I’d choose for other aspects of research: when I’m analyzing that which I’ve gathered I need something a bit more contemplative—something slower and more content to dawdle along the highways of thought—but this is perfect for the initial “getting through” stage in research. I can return to my notations at a later time, with slower music.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that gets its name from the word “tomato” in Italian. (As in the classic kitchen timer, pictured at right.) It instructs you to map out your work-plan, set a timer to 25 minutes and get as much done as possible during that time, then take a 5 minute break. I love it because a.) I can (generally) stay focused for 25 minute increments of time, b.) it forces me to plan my work, rather than just jump in, which is often counterproductive for me, and c.) I get so much done in those 5 minute breaks. The dishwasher has been unloaded and loaded, I’ve loads of laundry in the washer and the drier dryer (pesky homophones), the living room has been straightened up and Ginger has gotten a bath. By limiting my work, I don’t fry my brain to the point I just need to go watch a movie to regain my sanity, and by limiting my breaks, I don’t end up endlessly cruising my favorite blogs on Google Reader.

I’m also quite enjoying the vase of roses in the corner of the kitchen table, the “Beach Walk” Yankee Candle burning on the counter, and my newly re-acquired status as an “official” student and the contingent privileges, such as the use of ILL and PASCAL (the interlibrary loan systems for my university), which is making my research so much easier. 

And those are my essential—or at least greatly enjoyed—things today.

What is keeping you sane/making life better/curling your toes under in delight? Do tell!

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