[Computational Complexity] The Organized Scientist
Some professors consider it a badge of honor to keep huge stacks of papers covering their desk and often most of their floor. But in reality once you bury a paper in other papers you won't ever deal with it or find it again when you need it. We are really no different than any other professional and just a few simple techniques can greatly unclutter your life.
For every piece of paper that enters your life you should do one of three things:
- Trash (or recycle) it.
- File it away, and it its an action item put it on your To Do list.
- Deal with it right away and then do one of the above.
If it is a form that needs to be filled out than do so. If it is something you don't have time for now (like a referee report) than keep those in a special place in your desk and add it to a To Do list.
The above rules apply to email as well.
For a To Do list, I use the Tasks page on Yahoo Calendar which I can access from any computer (and it's free). I use the "Due Date" field as a start date so I can sort tasks by when I want to do them.
If you print a paper from the web to read and you think you might need it again in a week or so what should you do? Recycle it and print it again when needed. Don't tell me I'm wasting paper. You'll just print it again when you can't find it anyway. As a general rule you should never save anything you can find on the internet.
How to get started? Go through all of your papers in your office applying the rules above. Too much effort. Then recycle everything. You weren't going to deal with them anyway and now you'll have a clean office and be ready to stay organized.
Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 7/10/2005 08:59:00 PM