Master Log 01: Referencing Software

and which tools can help you to become more productive

In June I will have to hand in my Master thesis and final project. Here I keep a diary on my progress and show how certain techniques are applicable in non-academic life.

The very first thing I did for the final thesis was downloading some referencing software. I use Citavi, but there are many more. Many are free and often the university has an agreement with them and can provide a license for extra features.

A referencing software not only makes quoting and referencing easier. It also helps structuring the thesis. You feed it with quotes and ideas, arrange them, export them into a document, fill the gaps and your thesis is as good as done. And you save the hustle with formatting the references.

There are some things to keep in mind when using a referencing software:

  • It will not write the thesis for you. You will do the entire work. But it will make formal things like the proper citation, the numeration of sub headlines and the reference list easier.
  • You have to be accurate from the beginning. Make sure that all titles and authors, years, editions and pages of every source are correct.
  • It would be a mistake to feed in all the sources that cross your path. Be selective and only add sources you have read and you are sure you will use.

It takes a while to get used to how that software works. I started to use it for some minor assignments before tackling the final project. Now I am familiar with it and can focus on the thesis.

Citavi provides a lot of information and tutorials on how to use their software. They also have a service department and a helpful community.

The software for real life

Just as Citavi is not writing the thesis for me, no program, app or device, however clever, will live our lives for us. We’ll have to go through even the nastiest bits by ourself. But when using track keepers, motivation boosters and overview providers, we can actually get the most out of life.

  • With schedules and planners we can not only set goals, but remind ourselves to make them happen and evaluate our progress. I recently pinned up a running plan to become serious about training for a half marathon.
  • Alarms and reminders help us to remember what we want to achieve and to motivate us. For Lent, I set some rules for myself and put them next to the door handle. Whenever I pass, I am reminded that I have decided to avoid sugar and gluten for a while.
  • Tables provide overview and control over things like expenses, but also words and chapters written, the time spent walking outside, or the virtues fulfilled per day. When I started to note down my expenses, it was astonishing to see the whole month, for instance, or what I spent most money on.
  • Journals, diaries and notebooks make us process our thoughts and experiences. I realized that what I have jotted down in my diary is out of my head and my mind is fresh afterwards. That process often even generates new ideas which I record and get back to later.
  • People are probably the best motivation “tools”. Making a commitment to someone, taking on a challenge together and being held responsible by others is an amazing productivity boost. I took part in a writing contest lately and not only wrote a story I am proud of, but actually won!

Tools are made to help us. However, the most important thing to remember is that they are made and used by us. That means we can adjust them. If the software starts to rule my life, if I am spending more time on the tools than on the actual project, it is time to use my freedom and tweak it a little.

What software for life do you use? Leave a comment below!

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