Dissertation Workflow, August 2020 (day 13 of 100)

Every so often, I decide to refresh my systems for getting work done. I've never really settled on any one routine for very long; I guess I just like to shake things up sometimes. It's totally a form of procrastination, but at least it's one that gets me excited about working again after a hiatus or a depressive funk or whatever.

Writing out my process helps me untangle my thoughts and start moving forward again. I was originally just writing this out for my own benefit, but then I thought it might contain a helpful nugget or two for someone else. So I decided to share it. If you get something out of it, I'd love to know!


  1. Firefox / University library resources / etc
  2. Nebo with Asus Pen
  3. Adobe Reader
  4. Zotero
  5. Zotfile
  6. Workflowy
  7. Standard Notes
  8. Most Dangerous Writing App
  9. Idiomatic
  10. LibreOffice Writer


  • Every day:

    • write something
    • edit something
    • read something
    • discover something
  • Remember to:

    • Take breaks!
    • Leave a day between steps for the same source if possible; stay fresh
    • Break tasks into tiny mini-tasks
    • Use timers and stick to realistic time limits


  1. Gather sources via Firefox, university library, etc | discover
  2. Save citations to Zotero via extension or manually | discover
  3. Read source and annotate in Adobe Reader and/or Nebo | read
  4. Gather new citations discovered in the source; save to Zotero | discover
  5. Copy source notes to Standard Notes (for archival/reference purposes)
  6. Copy source notes to project page in Workflowy
  7. Tag individual notelets with themes in Workflowy | write
  8. Filter by tags in Workflowy; copy notelets of the same theme into respective sections in SN project doc | write
  9. Write using the arranged notelets in sections using Most Dangerous | write
  10. Edit and revise text in Standard Notes using markdown, several rounds | edit
  11. Export to rich text using Idiomatic; paste to LibreOffice Writer
  12. Final formatting edits | edit

Final Thoughts

As writing tends to go, this process is definitely iterative and requires lots of looping back. Oh, and "notelet" is a word I just made up to describe discrete ideas that I take down in my notes; a notelet could be a direct quote, a paraphrase, or an idea and/or response that I come up with while reading. You can think of them as individual index cards. Finally, I'm writing in an interdisciplinary humanities/social science field, so I'd be interested to know how well this process translates to other types of research.

Take care,

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