Tag Archives: productivity

Starting work at 4am is a mixed bag

Step 1: Wake up at 3AM

You remember your youth? Going to bed at 3AM after having a lot of fun? Maybe playing video games or drinking at a bar? It felt a little rebellious and irresponsible to be up that late (it’s almost early #LOL). Maybe if you had a late class or a flexible work schedule, you did these shenanigans on a weekday! Those were fun times. This is the exact opposite of that. Try to go to sleep at 7, but fail. Go to sleep at 9 instead and wake up barely able to function.

Step 2: Protein

Cereal over the age of thirty is a bad idea. Even bran cereal. That’s just sugar, and sugar wants to take up squatter’s residence on your belly. It’s harder to evict than your derelict former roommate, Martin, who ate your eggs, but doesn’t feel bad about it because they are not free range and factory farm cruelty excuses theft, apparently. Cook an egg for breakfast because you are a grownup.

Step 3: Coffee

Using a clean coffee maker, brew up 8 to 10 cups of Walmart’s Great Value Medium Roast. It’s a great value! There are no calories in a cup of black coffee but there are 100 milligrams of caffeine (It is by will alone I set my mind in motion). Drink a cup (or three!) to get you started and put the rest in an insulated container to nurse over the rest of the morning. Coffee kept hot on a hot plate will taste like death in less than an hour.

Step 4: Go to work

To start the day, read a nice think piece about your work. There’s no need to jump right in to the real work of the day. You’re in at 4AM. If you read for an hour to get your head on straight, you’re still ahead of the game. For God’s sake, don’t read the news. Not even as a joke. Block that on your own computer if you have to, like NetNanny for adults. Yes, there is an app for that.

Step 5: Panic at 6AM

Holy crap, have you  been at work for 2 hours? What have you accomplished? It’s the equivalent of 11 AM for anyone on a non-insane schedule. Have you written anything? A blog post, at least? Part of a paper? Code? What’s the point of getting up before dawn? You could have “slept in” until 6AM. That’s a statement that is absurd on its face. Maybe you should meditate or something.

Do you prefer your morning routine parodies in video form? Here you go:



6 Month Review of the Scrum Method

The Allen Lab has using the Scrum method for 6 months. It is been remarkably productive. With two graduate students and three undergrads, we produced the data for two papers. One paper was submitted and provisionally accepted. The other is in preparation. We also produced a grant application.

The Allen Lab Scrum BoradThe Allen Lab Scrum Board

I give a lot of the credit for this to the Scrum method. I am new to lab management. My graduate students are very young and my undergraduates are just getting started. They have done amazingly and deserve the rest of the credit. I was not as productive in graduate school or in my postdoctoral work. I produced one paper per year (which is not bad) but this has been eye-opening.

It’s actually very difficult not to try to “convert” people. I feel almost like Scrum is a religion or something. I keep thinking about promoting this to other people in the department. I really don’t think that’s appropriate, so I keep my mouth shut. I’m the new kid and I am not a management consultant by any means. Every lab is different. I recognize all of this. Even so, I rather wish that I had trained in Scrum when I was a graduate student.

Maybe it would not have made much of a difference: there wasn’t a lot of “team science” when I was in graduate school. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Maybe graduate students need more practice in team management. On the other hand, maybe it’s better to learn to do everything yourself. I don’t have a good answer for that, but I know what’s productive in my lab.

Firefox shortcuts

I’ve found a few shortcuts in Firefox that I love.

Ctrl-tab : switches among open tabs
Ctrl-w : closes the current tab
Ctrl-shift-t : re-opens the last tab you just closed

I also found a shortcut that I hate:

Ctrl-q : quits the whole program instantly
Ctrl-shift-w : closes the current window

I keep reaching for ctrl-w and hitting ctrl-q by mistake

This little plug-in, keyconfig, lets you fix that: