The Belief That Engaging in Extraordinary Experiences Together Can Foster Relationships

Imagine a couple, Tina and John, who struggle to find time together during a typical week because they have conflicting work schedules. What type of experiences would Tina and John choose for a date night? Would they pick a special experience—like attending a Cirque du Soleil show or trying the newest restaurant in town—or would they settle for a more mundane experience, like ordering takeout and watching Netflix at home?

Like Tina and John, people today often feel they do not have enough time to spend with loved ones—a romantic partner, best friend, or family—given work and personal responsibilities. People have multiple important relationships they must juggle and cultivate; yet they only have 24 hours a day and seven days a week to do so! So even though the concept of “quality time” in friendships, romantic, and familial relationships is a central ingredient for relationship success, finding time to be with those we love is hard.

So we asked the following question: when people objectively cannot increase the amount of time they have to spend with loved ones, how do they think they will make the most out of the limited time they have with a partner?

In a series of studies, we found that people prioritize extraordinariness—above and beyond other factors such as convenience—when they perceive their time with a relationship partner as scarce.

Our first test was on a social media platform, where we created two different ads promoting a blog post featuring the top five extraordinary experiences in Boston. The slogan of one ad was “Summer just began so you will have a lot of time to hang out with your loved ones!” while the slogan of the other ad was “Summer is so short so you won’t have that much time to hang out with your loved ones!” The experiment ran over the course of 10 days, randomly showing users residing in the Boston area one of these two ads. We found that when the ad highlighted the notion that shared time with loved ones was scarce (vs. abundant), 18% more people clicked to read the blog post featuring extraordinary experiences in their city.

Following this, we found more evidence for this prioritization of extraordinariness when time is limited. In the laboratory, participants were asked to choose between two types of chocolates to share with a lab partner: they could either get one gourmet chocolate or two regular mass-produced chocolates. We varied whether or not they had limited time with their partner by telling participants that they would have two more interactions in the lab with this partner, or only one. While 63% of our participants gave up quantity by choosing the extraordinary option (the gourmet chocolate) when they perceived their time with their partner as abundant, a larger percentage—80%—chose the extraordinary option when they perceived the shared time as scarce.


People prioritize extraordinariness because they believe doing so will help them maintain the well-being of the relationship. Indeed, in one study, we asked participants to choose a restaurant for a dinner with a work colleague who would either be in town for several more months, or just one more day. Additionally, we asked participants to imagine they either cared strongly about maintaining the relationship with this colleague or they did not.

The effect of shared time scarcity on preference for an extraordinary experience disappears when people do not care about maintaining the relationship with the other person; instead, in such situations, they prioritize other facets of the experience, such as convenience.

Going back to our initial example of Tina and John, we expect they would choose the jaw-dropping circus show over an evening at home watching Netflix. In other words, choosing extraordinary experiences is a relationship maintenance strategy that people use as they seek to maximize the limited time they have with loved ones.

But of course, our work doesn’t answer one important question: is this indeed a wise strategy, or does it unnecessarily focus attention on the unique experience and away from, say, meaningful conversations that may better enhance their relationship well-being? That is for future research to answer.

For Further Reading

Garcia-Rada, X., & Kim, T. (2021). Shared time scarcity and the pursuit of extraordinary experiences. Psychological Science, 32(12), 1871–1883.

Ximena Garcia-Rada is an assistant professor of marketing at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on consumer behavior and well-being with an emphasis on close, personal relationships.

Tami Kim is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Her research focuses on consumer behavior in digital environments.

Eating Frogs and Other Time Management Tips

With an ever-growing list of priorities and deadlines, managing time effectively is a constant challenge. In our most recent #SPSPChat on Twitter, we asked three experts to share their top tools and insights for using time effectively.

Here are just a few of the tools shared by Drs. Sa-kiera Hudson, Ashley Whillans, and Elizabeth Page-Gould:

7 Resources for Time Management

Eating the Frog First

This study tests a popular adage which states that “if it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing,” which advises completing challenging tasks first. The research examines how people misunderstand how the difficulty-ordering of tasks influences efficacy, acknowledging that people tend to take on tasks of lower difficulty first. Their research supports the “eat-the-frog-first” approach, finding that people can build efficacy by starting with their hardest task.

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How it Boosts Productivity)

This Lifehack article explores the benefits of the practice of allocating large chunks of time to related tasks, known as block scheduling. This approach aims to combat procrastination, help people create realistic time estimates, and develop more focus and attention by cutting down on open space in their calendar.

The Action Priority Matrix

The Action Priority Matrix is a simple diagram designed to help people choose activities they should prioritize and which ones to avoid. The matrix achieves this by encouraging people to place tasks into one of four categories: Quick Wins (High Impact, Low Effort), Major Projects (High Impact, High Effort), Fill Ins (Low Impact, Low Effort), and Thankless Tasks (Low Impact, High Effort). We also encouraging learning about the Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle, which features a similar process.

The LOT Planner: Life On Track!

Dr. Sa-kiera Hudson developed the Life-on-Track (LOT) Planner during her time in graduate school, when she struggled to find a planner that kept track of her responsibilities while allowing her to practice self-care. The planner combines goal-tracking with personal reflection time, as well as a sticky note system to accommodate changing goals and timelines. 

Pimp My Gmail: Productivity Email Tips from an Ex-Google Employee

Former Google employee Ashlyee Freeman describes Gmail as her “personal assistant and first line of defense from endless distractions.” She has developed a series of YouTube videos designed to leverage the email client’s settings and services to use time more effectively.

How to Do it All

This model, developed by Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould to share with incoming graduate students at the University of Tennesee, encourages the user to list their main work goals for the semester, as well as how much time per week they should be spending on them. Once the table is complete, the user can arrange their weekly calendar accordingly using block scheduling. View Dr. Page-Gould's time estimate chart and a sample weekly schedule.

Getting Your Team to Do More than Meet Deadlines

This article, published in Harvard Business Review and co-authored by Ashley Whillans, cites research which shows that managers can help combat procrastination and burnout by encouraging employees to set aside proactive time for work that is important but not urgent.

This recap only scratches the surface of what was discussed during the #SPSPChat. Read the full recap of the conversation, including the valuable personal advice and anecdotes shared by our panelists.

A Quick Guide to Understanding and Reducing Procrastination

Have you recently found yourself in a situation where you missed a deadline or rushed into completing an assignment or project because you put it off until the very last minute? Many of us have been victims of procrastination and poor time management and feelings of guilt and disappointment that immediately follow. There’s also usually some resolve to “never do it again” because of how stressful the experience was, and yet, I find myself in a similar situation a week later. So, is there anything that we can really do about it?

Many experts suggest that we put off tasks for days and sometimes, years for several reasons. While some people think that they are choosing to procrastinate, because it helps them perform better under pressure, researchers suggest that there are often other deep-rooted reasons for procrastinating. For example, two big causes of procrastination are a lack of confidence and fear of failure.

One way to avoid procrastinating, according to researcher Timothy Pychyl, is to just get started. Waiting for inspiration to strike can be counterproductive. We think that there will be a time point in the future when we will feel like performing the task but this is often not the case. We are not very good at predicting how we will feel in the future. In fact, it is a better idea to just get started because any anxiety you might feel before starting the task often dissipates when you are actually performing the task.

The ways in which we set up our goals also make a difference in how we feel about completing them. One strategy that is useful to some people is to set up implementation intentions—introduced by Peter Gollwitzer, a psychology professor. Implementation intentions involve specifying the contexts surrounding your goal, such as when and where the action will take place. For instance, if you need to grade an assignment, you’d need to say “when I leave the lecture, I will go to the lab and grade the assignment.” Similarly, focusing on the next action, any action, is useful. It could be as small as opening your laptop or opening that document. Once you start with these simple actions, completing the task gets much easier.  Other strategies involve making more concrete, specific action plans, and importantly, forgiving yourself can help reduce how emotionally laden completing tasks are, and therefore reduce the chances that you will procrastinate in the future.

Other Resources

The Planning Fallacy: An Inside View

Here you go again - frantically working to beat the deadline for a project you thought would be done long ago. Why didn't you see this coming? Why do you repeatedly underestimate how long it will take you to get things done?

This familiar experience, known as the planning fallacy, has been explored by social psychologists since the term was coined by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979.  The planning fallacy refers to an optimistic prediction bias in which people underestimate the time it will take them to complete a task, despite knowing that similar tasks have typically taken them much longer in the past. An intriguing aspect of the planning fallacy is that people simultaneously hold optimistic expectations concerning a specific future task along with more realistic beliefs concerning how long it has taken them to get things done in the past. When it comes to plans and predictions, people can know the past well and yet be doomed to repeat it.

The best evidence for the planning fallacy comes from studies that follow people into the future. In such studies, people predict how long it will take them to complete an upcoming project and also report how long it has taken them to complete very similar projects in the past. Finally, they carry out the project and report exactly when they completed it.

Typically, participants in these studies exhibit the planning fallacy. For example, university students typically acknowledge that they have typically finished past assignments very close to their deadlines, yet they insist that they will finish the next project well ahead of the new deadline. Then, predictably, they go on to finish the next project (as usual) right at the deadline.

The planning fallacy is remarkably robust. It appears for small tasks like daily household chores (such as cleaning), as well as for large-scale infrastructure projects such as building subways.  It generalizes across individual differences in personality and culture, and it applies both to group and individual projects. For example, conscientious people often get things done well before procrastinators, but both groups typically underestimate how long it will take them to get things done.

So why do people repeatedly underestimate how long tasks will take? Why don't they learn from past experience and adjust their estimates accordingly?

Kahneman and Tversky proposed that, as people think about how they will complete a task, they are inclined to take an "inside view" in which they focus on the specifics of the task at hand, paying special attention to its unique features. For example, people imagine and plan out the specific steps they will take to carry out the target project. The problem is that events usually don't unfold exactly as people imagine. Even when people create a thoughtful mental scenario in advance, they will likely encounter unexpected obstacles, delays, and interruptions. People could usually make more realistic predictions by taking an "outside view" in which they base their predictions on their prior experiences. However, people typically overlook this approach, in part, because they feel that their previous experiences are not relevant to the new task.

Dozens of studies have supported the inside-outside explanation of the planning fallacy. They have also taken research on the planning fallacy in new directions. Researchers have come up with strategies that can help to reduce or avoid the planning fallacy. Here are three types of strategies that may help people make more realistic predictions for upcoming projects.

1. Take the outside view.

Several interventions aim to overcome people's failure to base their predictions on historical precedent. For example, "reference class forecasting" is a step-by-step procedure that involves comparing the current project with similar projects the person has completed in the past. This technique requires the person to identify a set of similar tasks they’ve worked on in the past, to plot out how long each task took, and then to compare the task they currently hope to complete with all the past outcomes. This painstaking approach allows them to estimate the most likely outcome this time. And, most importantly, this procedure has been shown to improve forecast accuracy for large-scale construction projects and may have similar benefits among people trying to make predictions about personal projects.  Of course, the time it takes people to use this labor-intensive technique may not always be worth the investment of time and energy.  This technique may be more useful to subway builders than to subway sandwich makers. 

2. Alter the inside view.

Given that people often base their predictions on an idealized and optimistic scenario for the task at hand, researchers have developed interventions that prompt people to think “outside the box” as they form their plans. Specific strategies include decomposing the plan into smaller steps (unpacking), generating the plan in reverse-chronological order (backward planning), and visualizing the plan from the perspective of an observer (third-person imagery). Each of these strategies can help people focus less narrowly on their hopes and plans and to consider factors that might delay their progress – such as potential obstacles, injuries, temptations, distractions, interruptions, and competing offers on how to use one’s time.

3. Make plans and predictions that influence behavior.

An alternative path to more accurate predictions is to generate plans and predictions that are strongly binding.  For example, getting people to form "implementation intentions" at the time of prediction – making them commit to performing parts of the task at specific times and on specific dates – makes people more likely to carry out those actions, and thus less prone to the planning fallacy.  This is why I gave myself a separate deadline for writing each section of this blog. 

We have learned a great deal about the planning fallacy in the past two decades. However, if I were to predict that future progress on this intriguing bias will be faster than past progress, you’d be right to call me on it. So I’ll just say that I hope that our continued research on this problem will continue to yield new insights – and perhaps help you arrive at more realistic plans and predictions for your next major project.

For Further Reading:

Buehler, R., Griffin, D., & Peetz, J. (2010). The planning fallacy: Cognitive, motivational, and social origins. In M. P. Zanna & J. M. Olson (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 43, pp. 1-62). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Buehler, R., Griffin, D., & Ross, M. (1994). Exploring the "planning fallacy": Why people underestimate their task completion times. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 366-381.   

Flyvbjerg, B., Garbuio, M., & Lovallo, D. (2009). Delusion and deception in large infrastructure projects: Two models for explaining and preventing executive disaster. California Management Review, 51, 170-193.

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Intuitive prediction: Biases and corrective procedures. TIMS Studies in Management Science, 12, 313-327.

Roger Buehler is a social psychologist who studies the planning fallacy and thought he’d be done with this research long ago.

Tips for Staying Productive During the Summer Months

When classes are in full swing and the campus is full of busy students and faculty, the fall and spring semesters can be pretty hectic. But once summer rolls along, the pace often seems to dwindle. With summer on the way, we decided to ask some SPSP Student Members for advice on how they navigate the summer months!

What are some ways that you have found helpful to stay motivated and productive during the summer months?

Handling deadlines (or lack thereof)

  • In order to stay productive, I create external deadlines over the summer: conference presentations, dissertation committee meetings, grant deadlines, and submission deadlines for journals.
  • We have a surprising amount of control over these deadlines. If you are working on a research study, don't just say to yourself, “I'll finish that over the summer.” Instead, say “I'll submit this to SPSP’s special edition.” This gives you a hard deadline from which you can work backward to ensure you stay productive.
  • Strict deadlines that I share with my advisor in order to keep myself accountable.
  • I set reasonable, specific goals that I can break into small chunks. This helps me see my progress throughout the summer. For example, I will sign up for a web course and then watch one hour of lecture, three days a week. For my writing, I will read articles or work on a draft for two hours, twice a week. Having a specific structure for my work helps me stay productive instead of pushing things off for another day.
  • Staying stressed. Summers can (and should) be a time to rest, recuperate and take the edge off semester stress. But I have found that without some pressure or stress, I end up taking it a little too easy. Deadlines and some amount of pressure can be a good thing.
  • If I don't schedule the time, I won't work. So I schedule two afternoons a week at the library to work on research and writing and I prioritize that time over other things. I treat it like an important meeting that I never cancel. I've found this has kept me on track and consistently moving forward on things that I'd otherwise push to the side until the end of summer.

Clean out the backlog

  • I make a list of specific daily tasks. Focus on things over the summer that you don't have time for during the year. Maybe this is writing up studies or teaching. Start with the backlog of studies, unless newer studies are time-sensitive because of research context.
  • The number one pitfall I think people have with summer work is that lots of things throughout the year get put off as “good projects for the summer.” Once I start thinking that way during the year, I start making a summer to-do list and soon realize that I'm asking too much of myself in a very short period of time. Try to set achievable goals for the summer months so that each step feels productive.

Change it up

  • Find a fun place to work, like a park or coffee shop. If you're not taking classes or teaching, then you're not beholden to the office. Perhaps even travel somewhere new for a while.
  • See who else is around during the summer and try to coordinate a writing block during the week.
  • Read scientific literature when you are traveling, rather than trying to analyze data. I find I need a big screen (or multiple screens) for data analysis, so I reserve the summer for reading.
  • Keep a sacred space for work and work only. When I go to this space (a room in my house, my office, a coffee shop), I don't allow myself to do anything but work. If want to check social media or browse the internet, I leave the space. That additional extra bit of effort dissuades me from getting distracted!

Take the time to have a good time!

  • My priority for the summer is not to stay motivated and productive. My goal is to live a rich and interesting life, because ultimately what we are studying at the end of the day is people and how they live and think and feel and behave. If we leave no time for those things in our own lives, how can we hope to understand how and why others do? Ironically, I think that makes me more productive.
  • I set aside time each summer for two or three trips or vacations, in addition to a three to four-week visit with my family. I plan and schedule these trips in the spring so that I know when I will be in town during the summer months. This helps me be more productive when I'm home and working, because I don't fall prey to the “unlimited summer days” fallacy.
  • When I'm on vacation, I do not answer emails and am categorically unavailable for work-related matters. I turn off my phone and internet access, and limit myself to a few minutes in the evening at most. I check in with my collaborators and advisors ahead of time to let them know that I'll be gone, and if there are things they need from me, I take care of these before I leave.


Time Management with the Pomodoro Technique

One of the most difficult things about completing a Ph.D. program is that it is a slow and seemingly never-ending project that is not contained within a 9-5 job schedule. You are never done, until you present your dissertation after many years of hard work. In between, there are very few milestones that offer the satisfaction of having completed something.

In the beginning of my Ph.D. program, I found myself very frequently feeling like I was not progressing or accomplishing much, even after a 10-hour workday. In talking with fellow doctoral students, I realized that this is a shared experience. Tasks like writing even a paragraph on a paper might end up requiring reading multiple papers, quickly leading down a rabbit hole of new papers, different journals and promising new reference lists. Although this is an integral part of the Ph.D. process, and helps one progress toward the overall goal, it certainly does not feel this way when it is happening. It feels like wasted time spent lingering around one issue, and not being able to cross it off the to-do list.

One system that I have found really helpful in addressing this is the Pomodoro time management system. Developed by Francesco Cirillo, it consists of 25-minute work bursts, followed by a 5-minute break. After 4 consecutive 25-minute work & 5-minute break sessions, the break is then 15 minutes long, and the cycle begins again. This is a very simple technique that rests on one condition: that during the 25-minute work session all distractions are turned off and you are only allowed to work on one task. Practically, this means putting the cell phone on flight mode, and having no access to email, social media, or any other distraction, including other projects you’re working on.

In terms of time management, this simple system helps with two critical issues: Getting you started, and keeping you going when you are stuck. Facing an entire work day ahead may seem endless and daunting. What’s worse, it gives the impression that you have a lot of time at your disposal, which encourages procrastination. Twenty-five minutes is a short enough period of time that it doesn’t feel intimidating, which helps you get started. It is a lot easier to negotiate with yourself and dive right into your task, if you think you only have a 25-minute work session ahead. Surely you can commit to just 25 minutes of uninterrupted, focused work. Once you’ve started the first pomodoro, the rest flow very easily, since your brain finally gets into the work mode. That is until you get stuck with something, like when you can’t get a certain sentence just right. For most people this would be the time they would look for a way out, and opt for a distraction: quickly check email, the news, social media, make a phone call, make coffee. When you find yourself stuck during a pomodoro session, the system itself encourages you to keep going for just a little bit longer, as the end is never more than 25 minutes away. It is easy to tell yourself that you can keep going for another 10 or 20 minutes before you are allowed to give up and take a break. In most cases, if you manage to avoid the distraction and power through, you overcome the problem and move on without losing the momentum.

In addition to the time-management element of the pomodoros, I have found that it does one more thing: it quantifies your work at the end of the day. The nature of the Ph.D. does not allow one to reach the finish line of tasks easily. It is not very frequently one can say ‘I finished the paper’. Assuming that you do really work focused and uninterrupted during the pomodoros, you can use them to measure the work you have put into a project, slowly building up to its completion. This does wonders in alleviating the frustration of never-ending projects, and allows you to finish your workday without any guilt. It can help contain the workday, so that it does not spill over to the entire day, which is exhausting and a can lead to burnout.

Of course, this system is combined with a to-do list prioritization and the breakdown of large projects into smaller parts, which most people are familiar with. While the Pomodoro technique requires only a clock to count down the 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break, there are several apps available for Android and iOs. Some have the basic function of counting down the time, while others allow you to designate projects and assign pomodoros to each project. For example, one project can be the conference paper you are working on, another the questionnaire you’ll use on your next experiment, and another the administrative work you may have to do for your department or supervisor. At the end of the day, you can track the amount of time you put into each project and assess your progress.

Hopefully, this technique will help bring order into your workday and allow you to enjoy the process of completing your Ph.D.!

Grad School Application: Tips to Save Time and Avoid Stress

“Start sooner rather than later” is an excellent piece of advice for undergraduates who are planning to apply to graduate school this Fall. It’s a common mistake to underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to apply.

The reality is that applying to graduate school is a daunting and extremely time-consuming process. Having gone through it twice myself, I can honestly say that this process requires a great deal of organization, commitment, and patience. When I was applying to grad school during the Fall semester of my senior year, it was difficult to also find enough time for my coursework, my research, and my outside job. To be successful, you’ll want to knock out as much as you can before you begin your Fall semester. So why not start now?

Below are three tips that will save you time and stress during the application process:

Take the GRE Before Your Fall Semester

The GRE is a monster of a test (I typically refer to it as the SAT on steroids). Preparing/studying for this test is essential for scoring well, and this is extremely difficult in the Fall when you have a full course load. My recommendations are to start studying now and to take the GRE before August. If you happen to do poorly, you will still have time to take it again before you get too far into the Fall semester. Having this test out of the way during your Fall semester will reduce your stress levels significantly. Trust me.

Create Your List Of Schools And Potential Advisors

The summer is the perfect time to begin thinking about where you would like to apply. Start asking yourself: What would I like to research? Are there PhD programs that align with my research interests? If you do come across a program with a research lab that seems to be a good fit, contact the professor of that lab to confirm that they are planning on taking a student the following year. If they are, definitely put that school down on your list. It is recommended that you have a list of at least 10 PhD programs when you begin preparing your application materials.

Step-Up Your Game In Your Research Lab

For those of you who are already serving as research assistants (RAs) in a lab at your university, now is the time to be proactive. Ask your graduate student mentor if they need help on a summer project (even if you can only help remotely), ask your lab manager if you can present a research poster at SPSP, or even ask your professor if you can contribute to a manuscript that is being prepared for publication! These requests will serve you IMMENSELY when you send off your applications in the Fall. Having a research poster or manuscript on your CV will put you ahead of a lot of other applicants.

Happy Applying!

Tips to Help You Stay Productive

From writing publications to teaching to presenting at conferences, it can be challenging to meet the many demands of graduate school (and of academia in general). These demands can sometimes cause us students to feel overwhelmed or burnt out from working nonstop. They can also take away a significant amount of time from other things that are valuable to us, such as hobbies and relationships. Fortunately, there are some habits that you can adopt to prevent these things from happening! Below are some things that I have done to be a productive graduate student, without sacrificing other things that are really important to me.

1. Figure out where you work best and work there as often as you can. For example, if a coffee shop works best for you, then work there. Personally, I go to my office every day of the week regardless of whether or not I need to be on campus (e.g., have class, a meeting). If I work from home or got to a coffee shop I know that work won't get done.

2. Try setting typical "work hours” so you can prevent a nonstop work cycle. For example, set your work hours from 8/9am-5/6pm. During that time slot, give yourself two 15-min breaks to do anything you feel like (e.g., eat, go for a walk) and a 30-min break for lunch. This can keep you productive during the day. It also gives you permission to wind down at home without feeling guilty that you’re not doing work.

3. This point branches off from #2. Make time for things that are important to you without letting work get in the way. Personally, while I probably could be spending every evening or weekend doing work, I typically don't (only when necessary, such as with an approaching deadline). For instance, I usually spend my evenings making art and my weekends doing community service, because those are things I really enjoy. Hobbies outside of research can make you a more holistic person and remind you that there's a world outside of your lab.

4. Publications are crucial to success in academia. Try getting in the habit of setting at least an hour every day to work on something manuscript-related. Depending on how far along you are on a project, work on an outline or a draft for a paper or even conduct analyses relevant to that paper.

5. Make a to-do list for the next day before you end work for the day. That way you won’t waste time feeling overwhelmed and trying to figure out what to do the next day. Plus, checking things off of that to-do list feels great!

6. As graduate students we deal with a lot of deadlines. Constantly updating your calendar and writing down deadlines for things (e.g., fellowships, conferences) in advance (e.g., a year or two) can help you stay on top of things, not miss great opportunities, and know what to prioritize and when.

7. Maintain good communication with your advisor to make sure you're on the same page. Ask about his or her expectations of you, put them in conjunction with what you want to accomplish, and then set a game-plan with him or her for the semester or even year.

8. With a constantly overflowing inbox, emails are really hard to keep track of. Fortunately, I use one mail server (Apple's mail app) so that all of my emails come into one place. As a result, I don't have to constantly login to multiple emails or check them if I haven't received a notification. On another note, while I'm sure you don't need a mail server for this, I've found it really helpful to flag emails I need to respond to. That way I don't have to sift through hundreds of emails, trying to remember or figure out whose email I missed.

9. As we advance through graduate school, we may have several projects going on at once, which can make us feel overwhelmed. To feel less overwhelmed, I recommend taking time to reassess how all of your projects are connected and how they answer the big questions that you’re really interested in. That way, you won’t feel bogged down with answering smaller questions or forget why you did various projects in the first place.

10. Along the lines of #9, I find making diagrams really helpful. I use the boards in my lab all the time to illustrate different concepts and see how they fit together. I feel like it's a more active process than having someone explain something to me or trying to understand what's going on in a frustrating data set.

11. Lastly, I recommend reminding yourself how incredibly fortunate and lucky you probably are to be a graduate student. Graduate school is often paid for, we have access to so many great people and resources, get to carve our own career path, get to play with ideas and be creative, and have the opportunity to study the things we find most fascinating.