As I wrote at the beginning of the year, being an effective researcher is all about cultivating good habits. I must admit that I’m a productivity fiend who likes nothing better than devising new time management solutions, or finding different ways of monitoring progress. I was delighted to discover an app called Coach.me, which helps me do exactly that.
With Coach.me you add habits to your dashboard, then tick them off as you complete them each day. There are lots of habits available, including exercise, meditation, and writing, or you can create your own. For example, I’ve signed up to write at least 500 words per day, to take 10,000 steps, and to practice German.
You can either make them private, or expose yourself to public scrutiny. While the latter option might sound hideous, it does mean that other members of the Coach.me community can offer support through encouraging comments or giving you a thumbs up. Not all habits have to be daily – you could also set a weekly target.
Coach.me can even send you reminders. Handily, it also helps you to ditch bad habits, such as checking email in the evening.
There are many ways in which Coach.me could help you as a researcher. You might need to form a habit of blogging a certain number of times each week, reading journal articles for at least 15 minutes each day, or keeping your inbox free of clutter. I’m finding it particularly useful for monitoring writing output. As you’ll know, writing is much easier if you do it every day, and even setting a target of just 100 words helps. Blocks of text soon build up to blog posts, journal articles, or (eventually) books. I keep a list of possible topics and then pick whichever one I fancy each day. Often, I write a summary of something I’ve just read.
Perhaps the novelty hasn’t yet worn off, but I’m finding Coach.me brilliant for maintaining consistency. In the past I’ve tended to start really well, then drop off when work gets really busy. Now I’m determined to tick off those habits every day.
The Coach.me app works both on mobile devices and through their website, with its clear and easy-to-use interface. It’s completely free at the moment (I’m not sure whether that’s set to change), although you have to pay if you require a private coach to give you a personal prod every day. At the moment, that big green tick is enough for me.
I hope it works for you, too. Unless, of course, you’re already terrifyingly productive.