Nurse's Watch: Conversations on contemporary nursing,
nursing education, leadership, spirituality and blogging.
~Start date February 2010~

Monday, September 22, 2014

This may just work!

As I forge ahead on my dissertation journey, one thing is for sure, it takes meticulous planning and organization. Something that despite appearances, I am not good at! In that vein, I want to share with you something that I just signed up for and have started to use to plan my dissertation steps. It is similar to a pert chart but more intuitive and colorful. Also, it is online and free.

The web site is called Tom's Planner. The planner is set up like a Gnatt chart. The website has a demo that you can play with to see if this format works for you. I am excited. Particularly, with research each step takes a great deal of planning. It is almost like a domino effect, miss a deadline and it will throw everything else off. This will allow me to set due dates for each step and plan ahead. Interestingly, they have templates for dissertations.

I posted a picture of what I have so far... Hmmm, looks like I have a lot of planning to do!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Surviving a doctoral program...

Organizational Helps:

Apps for the busy student...

Evernote and Dropbox for note taking and storage!

I am always trying to find more ways to be organized. When I ran across these two applications, my heart almost skipped a beat. Anyone with lots of ideas, notes, projects and segments to their lives are sure to love these; I know I do!

Evernote has a phone and tablet app so I am able to jot down ideas anywhere, anytime and when I open my laptop, there they are! Evernote is comprised of 'notebooks' that you label and yes, they look just like notebooks. I have several notebooks to keep various areas of my life compartmentalized and can place links and notes in them. If you are all over the place or an idea person, try it, you are sure to love it! 

Dropbox is just that, a box out in the wild blue yonder that holds whatever I need it to. It holds articles and such, or can store pictures. Many students use it to hold articles that they are reading so they can access them on mobile devices. You can also 'share' articles within groups or with other students. There are many uses for Dropbox and though I don't use mine a lot it is nice to have the versatility it offers.

Scrivener for document composition and writing!

Oh, how I wish I had found this before now but I just downloaded and am excited to have it in time for my dissertation, yay! This app is almost indescribable. I am very picky and demanding of apps that I actually pay for. This one delivers. It is specially designed for writers who write a lot. Novelists or researchers are sure to appreciate this robust writing tool. This application is for Macs or PCs. It can house my documents and the articles or links I am referencing. It also has notecards and a corkboard to keep me on track. Best of all, it exports to Word or anywhere else you need.

Index card is for your portable devices.

Index card enables one to take notes or create index cards for studying and then sending the cards to Scrivener. So for those times you don't want to take your laptop but you would like to create some notes for an article, this is the perfect solution.

Wunderlist for your lists.

Yes, I have a calendar but I am a list maker. Seriously, I need my lists to keep me on track. I also like to categorize them to the different compartments of my life. I know what you're thinking...but you just said you have Evernote for that. Yes, I do but Wunderlist is for the short lists, my to-do lists...and it syncs between all my devices. That is invaluable to me. I am looking for a calendar that does the same thing. I love awsome Awesome Cal but it isn't for the laptop. So on the calendar front, I'm still looking :-(

Endnote is a must!

Well, there is just no way in the world I would have survived this doctoral program thus far without Endnote. I know some people use Refworks and I'm sure it is a great tool also. Endnote definitely has a learning curve but it is well worth it. The school I attend provides this program while you are a student, but I already have plans to purchase it after I finish. If you are a researcher/writer you will need a high performance program such as this to organize your references.

I use the online version. The Cite While You Write feature magically inserts the reference at the end of the sentence when I go to tools, then Endnote and type in the author name. It also creates the bibliography page as it inserts each citation. Recently, I also installed it on my hard drive. They both sync, which is great. This version can change your document style from APA to MLA or AMA. I am sure a wizard who pitied poor doctorate students created this magnificent application.

Scapple for mind maps!

I'm sure this is hard to believe but I can be a bit scattered...I know, what a surprise. This is why I like mind mapping tools. They just follow my thoughts. My favorite, favorite, favorite is scapple. Why? Because it literally just follows my thoughts and I get to link things together the way I want. This app has been instrumental in allowing me to map out my plan of study and my research. Another app that is great for this is X Mind. I like X Mind but it is a more organized tool. It offers great templates and while you can rearrange them somewhat, I found the openness of Scapple works better for me.

Ok, where can you find these apps? Where you can find most anything, Google and the app store! I would encourage you to google these apps and read other reviews, which is what I did. I looked at screen shot after screen shot and tried to determine if these were going to be helpful. I, also, read other peoples comments and ratings on the app sites. This helped me choose what was likely to work best for me. Good luck!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Synthesis and survival...

Whew... Sitting here this morning, being lazy, is amazing. It is not something that I do often. It has been nice to recuperate and rest from my first semester in post-graduate school. It's funny, someone asked, do you like it, another queried is it hard? Yes and yes. It is the most amazing experience.

There have been sleepless nights and fatigued days filled with too much junk food. The emotional high that only an A can produce and the gut wrenching feeling in the pit of the stomach of anything that is not an A. After all, in a PhD program nothing less than a B is passing, no C's are allowed. This has required me to try to organize myself even more.

I thrive on organization and am uncomfortable when I must run headlong into work and school without a plan. Thus, this first semester was a bit of a struggle. I had been out of school for a couple of years and allowed myself to sit and vegetate in front of the TV. I had the classes I taught organized, even new ones I had picked up, so there was time to relax. If I had only known what was to come, I would have read and studied ahead. So during this winter break, I am trying to consume text after text. Fall semester I felt I started behind and was trying to keep my head above water the whole time, this I do not want to repeat!

One of the goals in any graduate or PhD program is to prepare the student for research and writing.  The student is taught to read material and reflect upon it, add several other readings which substantiate the material or bring in alternate view points and then synthesize the information. Many who read this will think, 'duh', however for those embarking upon a journey into graduate and post graduate education this thought process may seem new. A lot depends on previous schooling. I was fortunate that my graduate school was pretty rigorous. Consequently, I was used to this. However, as you can see this takes time. Time to read, time to think, time to read more and then time to mull over all the information and formulate your own original thoughts about it. So my plan during break is to do a great deal of preliminary reading so I can begin to reflect upon it. Reflection is crucial. Once in graduate school you are no longer looking for 'right' answers so much as you are proposing original thoughts about current topics.

I am hoping to chronicle this journey. Goodness knows I have done a very poor job thus far. It is fascinating on so many levels. For those considering furthering your nursing education, I hope to offer insight and a crude map to assist you in your journey. In many ways the map is not unique. Yet it is my hope that these individual experiences can support you in your goal and enlighten you as you too prepare to further your education.

Postscript: I found this today. Wrote it and never posted as this spring semester consistently seemed to get the best of me.What was true then, is true now, so I'm posting with more to come later :-)