Writing your PhD thesis/Grant/Paper on the go

Writing your PhD thesis/Grant/Paper on the go

Finding time to write your paper, grant or PhD thesis can also be a bit of a problem if you have other commitments such as lab work, administrative or supervisory work. Before you know it you will be going to bed without putting pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard. In many cases you will be writing a paper while at the same time trying finishing lab work or trying to work.

Unless you are extremely organized or focused or can work with distractions of everyday life can result in you not making the progress you would like in writing grants. Since I am in a similar situation, I thought I would share some of my techniques in writing on the go and finding free time during the day.

Your phone is your laptop

You might use your phone for a thousand other things, but using your phone to write your grant or PhD thesis might not seem like such a crazy idea and will be a great way to increase the amount of words you write a day. I understand that a phone isn’t the most ideal way of writing. You might find it hard to edit, format or add images but what it will allow you to do is get your ideas on paper. Using Gmail on my phone I wrote one of my papers and the start of my thesis while I was finishing up in the lab. What you have to remember is that it won’t be perfect, you will have to edit but what it will do is get you writing which is the most important part. Creating a good habit of writing a paragraph or two while on the train or at the bench will dramatically reduce the amount of time you will have to spend on your laptop. Just think of it as a huge text message, I am sure you write enough of them.

Record your thoughts

Most of my greatest ideas come to me on the go, but I never take time to write them down. This can definitely be the case in grant or thesis writing, as you walk down the street you will perfectly formulate an idea in your head, repeat it in your head and assure yourself you’ll remember it. Keeping hold of these ideas no matter how good or bad could be a time saver further down the line. Again you can use your phone, open and record. Soon you’ll have all your thoughts, even some lectures you attend or conversations you have on tape, providing you with a tonne of content for your thesis or grant.

Use your time on the bus/train wisely

A quick little sum you should do is work out how long a week you spend travelling to and from the lab/office. If like me it can be hours a week sitting staring into traffic. When looking at this it can be considerable amount of time you could spend reading, writing or recording what you need to get done for your project. What I would recommend is wholeheartedly dedicating a week to writing or read project related content on your transit. Email it all to yourself and put it in a word document, do a word count and shock yourself at how productive you have been during the week.

For more information about being productive you might find the following website useful:


18th Dec 2020 Sean Mac Fhearraigh

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