An unfledged routine for honours research

An unfledged routine for honours research
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

As of Monday the 29th of January, I officially started my honours research project at the University of Queensland. Over the break, I took time to rest, recharge and most importantly, theorise how I could develop an efficient and sustainable routine. This blog post will explore my ideal productivity principles and provide an example of how I plan to make them a reality.

What are my productivity principles?

Recently, I have been learning and integrating different productivity systems into my daily life and as it currently stands, the following are non-negotiable principles:

  • Travel time will be used intentionally
  • Before lunch, I will complete a session of deep work to complete the most urgent & important task for the day
  • After lunch, on most days, I will complete a session of deep work.
  • Each day, I should complete guided reflections to hypothesis experiments for improvement.

Travel time will be used intentionally

In my situation, travel to and from uni takes up approximately 90 minutes of time. Therefore these 90 minutes should consist of listening to good music, listening to an audiobook/podcast or carpooling with a friend.

Pre-lunch deep work

To increase the frequency of morning deep work, it is important to be aware of the effect morning routines and prior night sleep have on focus. For me, intermittently fasting to skip breakfast and the incorporation of a pre-focus routine have made the pathway into focus more likely. Furthermore, the combination of monitoring procrastination cues and having clear task intentions makes procrastinating more difficult than getting work done. Thereby increasing the likelihood of completing work.

Post-lunch deep work

The activities during lunch and the food itself should be intentional. For example, I am an extroverted person and therefore, talking to friends during lunch is restorative and engaging. Furthermore, eliminating high-GI foods from my lunch allows me to minimise postprandial somnolence and re-focus will less friction. By far the most effective technique has been the practice of mindfulness after eating and before focus. This acts as a re-energising activity and also acts as a cue for a pre-focus ritual. As a bonus, mindfulness is an excellent tool for anxiety/stress management.

Guided reflections for experimentation

All improvement must involve a recursive and introspective reflective process to self-diagnose issues and create experiments for improvement. In my situation, I write a reflective statement(~15mins) about what went well with my productivity, what went wrong, why I think it went wrong and what I can try differently tomorrow.

Overall, the combination of these core principles are important if I want to make the most out of honours research and therefore I plan to write an update on my progress in a later post.

Matt Siellet