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Graduate Student Dissertation & Thesis Camp

Productivity and Time Management

Pomodoro Technique

Forest App

  • A timer that grows a tree when you are productive or kills it when you are not. You use it to define where is OK for you to be spending time on the web when you're working and where it is not.
  • Integrate in your browser with a Chrome web plugin: 
    • The settings area has some default sites added but you can add more to customize to your needs
    • Forest does a nice job of putting a popup up when you go to one of those sites saying "Your tree is still growing!" and asks if you want to give up, so you don't inadvertently kill your tree with a habitual news site check.
  • There's a $2 app you can sync with to track your progress in the longer term and actually build forests but if all you want to do is build trees with no record of all your progress, it's great for that. 


  • ​A desktop app that has a free time tracking capability
  • Can act as an automated research and dissertation log
  • Available for nearly any operating system


  • ​Works similarly to Forest
  • Turn on RescueTime and learn how your time is used
  • Specify how much non-productive time you can spend on a given site before it shuts off access.

24 Hour Google Planning Calendar

  • 7 day a week, 24 hour planning calendar
  • Make a copy from the link to your own Google Drive
  • Edit to block off time based on your priorities:
    • Sleep time
    • Food prep and mealtime
    • Family time
    • Class time
    • Work time
    • Dissertation time
    • Health and wellness time


  • LeechBlock NG is a simple productivity tool: a web browser extension designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. (You know: the ones that rhyme with ‘Blue Cube’, ‘Space Hook’, ‘Sticky Media’, ‘Quitter’, and the like.) All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them.
  • Download extensions

Five Tips to Distraction-Proof Your Day (Video, runtime 4'16'')

  • Author Nir Eyal offers tried and true ways to distraction-proof your day.
  • His strategies focus on your internal disrupters, more than those external disrupters we hear about so often
  • BBC Ideas: Five Ways to Distraction-Proof Your Mind

Research and Writing Tools

Research Organization

Writing and Project Management

Accountability Groups and Partnerships

  • Form an Accountability Writing Group - This document was created for the graduate student audience at the University of Notre Dame. While it has programming specific to this student population, there are guidelines that can help anyone who seeks to find support for more productive writing in a group of two or more.
  • National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development (NCFDD) - This member organization is available for Notre Dame faculty and graduate students alike. It focuses on early career development of skills needed to succeed as a researcher and writer.