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I am a PhD student, and I have found that writing down my ideas and thoughts helps me discover new ideas which fascinate me. Such ideas would be difficult to generate just by thinking. Unfortunately, many times I feel lazy to jot down my ideas. The reason for this might me that I don't have any systematic workflow to record my ideas. So how should I maintain, record and manage my ideas without feeling it to be an overhead?

I found mind maps effective to record categorical ideas, but it won't help me much in the idea generation process unlike actual writing down in full sentences. Recently, I found Writemonkey software which allowed me to record my ideas in a distraction-free environment, so how can I make sure that I actually use it in the first place?

To summarize, my main question would be:

How can I ensure that I write as much as possible and incorporate daily writing in my routine considering the fact I cringe writing on paper and prefer my laptop only?

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I use voice memos for this almost exclusively.

I almost always have my phone (or tablet) with me. Neither is conducive to typing, but both have either EverNote, with both voice and voice-to-text notes, or general voice recognition, if I have connectivity.

I find this substantially faster than either writing by hand (which I enjoy) or typing on either device, and it can be done sitting, standing, laying down, hanging upside down from a tree, etc.

Those notes go directly to my EN inbox notebook where I generally transcribe them within a day or two and decide what, if any, action needs to be taken next. The audio notes tend to be more gist-like than complete, but it depends.

For especially long notes I might just record locally and email it to myself or transcribe it directly from the device when the opportunity presents itself.

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This is a great question. I attended a conference a while back where BJ Fogg presented ( - my biggest takeaway, and one that changed my life - was to commit to doing something very small every day. Like write for 5 minutes - and assume that it will be something you throw away.

By doing this - I get myself in the position to write (sometimes harder than it sounds) and mentally get into the space....with no expectation that I will product X pages, or stay there for more than 5 minutes.

Sometimes I do stay only for 5 minutes....but usually I start writing and go longer. Lately I've been setting up 4 writing sessions of 5 minutes per day and sitting down for all 5 and getting started. Hope that helps!

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You could carry your laptop around with you all the time. Okay, kidding.

Do you have a smartphone, tablet or a similar device? You could use that, if the software has a version for your device. If not, you could either try finding a software/service that you can use with your portable device.

But if you want to use your laptop for the writing, you could split it into two parts.

  1. Write down the gist of the idea on a piece of paper, or on your portable device.
  2. Next time you're on your laptop, get out all your gists and start typing away.
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You might simply need some motivation to keep writing. I have been using this site called 750 words ( from time to time to record random rants, but it has a system to give you "badges" when you have written on consecutive days. The site also runs interesting analytics (like, how often are you happy/sad/depressed, how many times you talk about your work, etc). Unfortunately it will become a pay site soon, at $5/month, but according to the site developer it will be free for the first month so you can still give that a try.

But this is simply a "system" that was already set up to reward yourself for writing. If you want to save that $5/month you can set up your own, like record the number of days you write and award yourself a latte or go to see a movie etc when you achieve your goal. Or have a friend do it with you. If the right motivation is given, I am sure you will push yourself a little harder to maintain the writing habit.

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