As a busy researcher you know how important it is to be organized. With so many commitments pulling you to and fro, it can be easy to forget an important task or meeting. Not to mention needing to know how much time to anticipate for things like writing up manuscripts. In this month’s Resource Roundup, we look at some useful online organizational tools to help keep you on top of your projects, and take the hassle out of staying organized.
Toggl is one of many time trackers out there, but we like it for its simplicity and easy report creation. Working as an individual or in teams, you can create projects and assign clients for each task you track. You can also track billable hours, and the flexible reporting periods can help you monitor project costs. The reports can also be exported to Excel where you can perform more in-depth analyses or keep a record of your monthly time management results. For those times you can’t get online but still need to track your time, the desktop feature is a nice touch. Once back online, the data syncs with your previous entries seamlessly.
Trello is a regular fixture in the Edanz office. A simple, visual project planner, Trello lets you create individual boards for each project or idea you want to plan. Within each board you can create a variety of lists, each with their own sub cards that can easily be moved between lists or archived once complete. Any related notes and attachments can be included on the relevant card, and you can assign team members, due dates, labels, checklists and more. If all of that isn’t enough, you can even integrate it with Gmail for immediate task creation.
An obvious mention, but I’m sure a lot of us don’t know where we’d be without all the handy tools that Google offers. A simpler, shareable alternative to Microsoft Office, Gdocs are especially useful for collaborating and sharing files with colleagues without having to worry about compatibility issues and file corruption. The intuitive built-in folder system (which you can expand to your liking) with tracked updates makes it easy to keep on top your files, including which files need updating and who has looked at them.
We mentioned Mendeley in a previous roundup but it definitely belongs here again. An ultra-popular social networking and document organizer, Mendeley offers a central place to organize your PDFs, allows you to collaborate with other researchers, format references, and much more, all in one place. No more hunting for where you left that critical PDF!
For bigger organizational needs, LabGuru might just be what you’re looking for. Aimed at providing organization for an entire research group, LabGuru covers a lot of ground – from housing PDFs, to storing research data, providing links to various lab locations and suppliers, and tracking project history. And this is just scratching the surface. We’ve heard many researchers at major universities around the world talk up this program. It might just be the lab notebook–database hybrid you always wished you had. It can even be integrated into mobile devices.
And finally, for all you serial procrastinators out there, HabitRPG makes getting things done actually fun. Built like a to-do list meets role playing game, accomplishing tasks earns you skills points, and you can even work towards pre-determined rewards. But just be careful, if you don’t keep up, your HabitRPG character might meet an unfortunate fate! By making your work, especially those non-desirable tasks, fun, hopefully you won’t let your work back up and get into trouble in real life either!