Packing for a Conference

Packing for a Conference - Expressing Elizabeth.png

It’s still summer time, which means there are still tons of academic conferences to go to! I’m about to head out for a big conference, so I thought it would be helpful to share my packing list and tips! There’s even a printable list at the end of this post!

Packing for a conference is much like any other packing list, but you have to add in all of the work-related things. The most obvious of these categories is clothing. It’s important to pack some casual clothes for travel days and for going out in the evenings, but you also need to bring some clothes for the conference! At every conference I’ve been to, most people are dressed in business casual. This is especially important if you’re presenting, and it’s also important as a grad student in general (the professors can get away with dressing more casually because they already have jobs!). I usually wear dresses with blazers over them, but dress pants and tops also work fine! Just remember that the conference venue is usually cool (preparing for men being potentially in suit jackets plus the large number of people). I also try to pack or wear at least two pairs of shoes that are conference appropriate (flats, dress shoes, etc.). Since you’ll be standing around a lot, they should be comfortable and easy to walk in! Other clothing to pack are workout clothes, undergarments, socks, etc.

The next category is accessories. You should be bringing a bag that’s easy to carry around a laptop and/or tablet at the conference. Many conferences give out bags, but these usually aren’t that sturdy, plus everyone has them so it’s harder to keep track of your stuff! I also usually pack a small cross-body purse so that I can just throw essentials in it when going to find food or do some tourist-ing. I also pack jewelry and hair accessories (tons of hair ties and bobby pins), but these are of course personal preference!

Finally, you need to bring all of your toiletries! Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Whatever you usually bring will work here too! I usually try to throw in a little make-up so I can look put together at the conference even if I don’t feel put together!

There are a few other categories of things that you likely bring when you travel anyway, but are important to remember: technology (laptop, tablet, chargers, etc.), travel plans (travel information, contact information, sheets and towels if you’re renting an AirBnB, etc.), and miscellaneous stuff (magazines, snacks, tickets, wallet, keys, ID, etc.).

The most important category is the conference specific stuff! This includes things like your registration information. I also like to throw in a few business cards in case someone wants one. If you’re presenting a poster, make sure to bring that! If you’re giving a talk, you need your laptop, relevant dongles, your slideshow, etc. You should also bring a USB drive to put your presentation on. Not only is it good to have a backup of your presentation, one presenter in the session inevitably decides it would be easier/faster for everyone to use the same laptop so you need to move your presentation over to another laptop. And the wifi is never working when this needs to happen, of course.

I put together a printable packing list with many of these essentials listed plus some blank lines to add your own stuff! Each of the items has a little box next to it that only has it’s corners filled in. I just finish making the box for everything I’m brining with me on this trip, and I’m ready to check things off as I add them to my suitcase! I’m presenting a poster at the conference I’m heading to soon, and I’m visiting family at the same time. It means I need lots of clothes plus, of course, my poster! Here’s my list as it stands now:

Packing List - Expressing Elizabeth

Happy packing and happy travels!

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P.S. You can get the printable packing list here.



Weekly Spread Evolution

Weekly Spread Evolution in my Bullet Journal - Expressing Elizabeth.png

I’ve been using my current planner/bullet journal fusion since the beginning of July (you can see a description of the entire planner here). I want to go over some of the weekly spreads I’ve been using, including what I like and don’t like about them!

For most of July, I used a one-page weekly spread that contained a bunch of the general information for the week. I followed these up with daily spreads.

JulyWeek4Spread - Expressing Elizabeth

I divided the task list into two main sections: work and personal. Work obviously covers all of my school, research, etc. The personal side covers everything else. The two most interesting sections for most people are probably the sleep and mood graphs at the bottom. The sleep graph just has the hours going up the y-axis, ranging from 5 to 10 (hopefully I sleep at least 5 hours a night!). The days go along the bottom. I just put a single point for each day, which tells me how many hours I slept the night before. The mood graph is a bit more complicated. The y-axis has the mood options: the letters are abbreviations for awful, fugly, meh, good, and rad (taken from the Daylio app’s mood options). The days go along the bottom again. The three colors are for the main divisions of the day: morning, afternoon, and evening. I just connect each time of day so I can see how they change throughout the week.

The next different weekly spread I have is from last week, when I was doing my qualifying exams. Obviously this one is a bit different! I don’t have any daily spreads, so everything is included in these two pages.

JulyWeek5Spread - Expressing Elizabeth

The right page is similar to what I usually include on the one-page weekly spreads: the sleep and mood graphs, monthly calendar, task list (this time just as a single list), and a future tasks lists (for stuff coming up in future weeks). The left page is for the individual days. I tracked my water intake for each day along the top. For each individual day, I would list abbreviated names for the tasks, tracking what I got done. It was definitely a busy week!

Finally, we get to this week’s spread. I don’t have very many appointments and I’m basically just preparing for a conference for next week. Therefore, I did another two-page weekly spread that covers everything.

AugustWeek1Spread - Expressing Elizabeth

Obviously, this is not entirely filled in yet. The right page includes the general stuff again, although this time I put the trackers and the weather on that page as well and get rid of the monthly calendar. I skipped tracking weather last week since I hardly went outside. The left page has my daily task lists again, just like last week. Since I forgot to put in my sleep and mood trackers when I first made the page, I just added it in at the bottom of the right page. I put both graphs into one by having two y-axes. The left one has the hours of sleep and the right one has the mood options. I still have three colors for my moods, but I have to overlap the black for both mood and sleep, so sleep is getting labeled with a diamond rather than a circle for each day. Luckily (or unluckily), I tend to have relatively low amounts of sleep each night and relatively high moods, so there’s hardly any overlap!

Hope this gives you inspiration for your own weekly spreads! Share with me what you do!

Happy planning!

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Get Your Writing Organized

Get Your Writing Organized - Expressing Elizabeth.png

Writing anything can be challenging. Especially when you have a ton of writing to get done, it’s important to get it organized! My qualifying exams start in one week (Aaahhh!!), which means I’m about be writing non-stop for a week in a row. I will need to be answering six questions, each of which will take about five pages to answer. I don’t know what the questions will be (except that they’re related to my reading list, which is over 100 papers), so I will need to formulate my responses quickly so that I can get everything done in time.

The best way for me to do this is to write out my main points, arguments, etc. I usually do this just on scraps of paper. However, since I’ll be answering six questions at the same time, that could get confusing quickly! I looked around the internet for a printable that could help me get organized, but I didn’t really find one that I like. Obviously, the best solution was to make one and then share it with all of you!

These printables are not fancy or beautiful, but they will definitely help you organize your thoughts to write quickly and effectively! The first page lists the question (or whatever you’re prompt/goal is), the main point (essentially what you’re arguing), and boxes for arguments and the relevant articles to go with them.

writingOutlining Page 1 - Expressing Elizabeth

Within the argument boxes, write each of the facts/opinions that you are using to support whatever your main point is. Then there is a box to the right of each argument box. This is where you can write down the authors, dates, etc. that are relevant for the argument that you’re using. This will make it so much easier for you to do citations when you’re writing!

The second page includes spaces for a counterargument and rebuttal, outcomes/future directions, and conclusion.

writingOutlining Page 2 - Expressing Elizabeth

Some particular writing projects don’t require counterarguments, but in case they do (like they might in my case), I have included a space to write down a counterargument, as well as the box for the relevant articles. Obviously, if you use a counterargument, you should have a rebuttal! Therefore, there’s space for a rebuttal and the relevant articles as well. The outcomes/future directions section can include future research based on the argument, potential confounds, etc. The final section is the conclusions section, where you can write any final thoughts you might need for the concluding paragraph of your writing project!

Happy writing!

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P.S. Here’s the printable! Open it here.

DIY Birthday Cards!

DIY Birthday Cards! - Expressing Elizabeth.png

This post is going to be a little different from what I’ve done so far. I want to share this though! It’s super important while you’re in grad school, or really any time, to have hobbies. One of my favorite things to do is to make handmade greeting cards!

This month has a ton of birthdays in my family, so I’ve been making some cards! Here are couple that I’m going to share today, so you can see them! I unfortunately didn’t take pictures while I was in progress, but I will still share some details!

The first card I made is for my aunt. I wanted something that was interesting, but not too overwhelming. Plus, I wanted to use some of my brush pens, since she got them for me for my birthday!

teabagFoldedCard - Expressing Elizabeth.jpg

This card looks pretty complicated to make, but it’s not hard at all! I found directions for making teabag folded flowers on Pinterest. There are tons of options, but I liked how this one looked. The flower is made up of 8 folded squares (each 1.5×1.5 inches), which are then glued together into the circle that makes the flower. I also cut a strip of blue paper that was 1.25 inches tall and as wide as my card. My blank cards are all 5.5×4.25 inches. I got them in a big set (80 cards and envelopes) from Michaels! All I did was glue the strip of paper down a bit below the middle of the card, then glued the teabag folded flower on top of it, offset from the center of the card. Then I just used my pens to write Happy Birthday! (in the end I used the non-brush end of the pen, but oh well!).

The second card I made is for my grandpa. He likes black and red, so I wanted the card to reflect that while still being colorful!

squaresCard - Expressing Elizabeth

I found five different pieces of scrap paper and another one of the cards from Michaels (this one in black instead of hot pink). I cut two 1.25×1.25 inch squares from each of four of the papers and arranged them in a grid over the top 2/3 of the card. Then I cut a long strip from the gray paper that is 1.25 inches tall, but as long as the space from the left edge of the left-most square to the right edge of the right-most square on the middle row. I wrote Happy Birthday! on this one too (please excuse the handwriting, I’m disappointed about this too). I just glued that onto the bottom third of the card and I’m done!

These are super easy, so anyone can make them! And they’re so much more personalized than what you can buy at the store! Hope you enjoy!

Happy crafting!

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Organizing a Course in Your Bullet Journal

Organizing a Course in Your Bullet Journal - Expressing Elizabeth.png

I’m getting ready to start teaching again, so obviously I need some details in my bullet journal/planner (you can find details about the whole planner here)! I put most of the details for the course in online/digital documents. Things like the syllabus, slides, etc. are all there. However, I do like to have a brief outline that I can quickly reference! It’s nice to go over before class starts each day.

Right now I’m teaching a course for high school students as part of a summer “camp.” This means there isn’t any grading, so I don’t need to include any of those details in this layout! I do want to keep track of the objectives and outcomes, though, so that I can stay focused on the goals. I really want the students to get some broad ideas rather than all of the tiny details, so putting these where I see them a lot really helps me stay focused on these goals.

I just have a basic page, which isn’t beautiful but it works. Obviously it starts with the course title, and then there are the objectives and take-aways.

course planning page - Expressing Elizabeth

Right below the title, I put the main course objectives. These are things that we are hoping students will walk away with at the end of the class!

objectives - course planning page - Expressing Elizabeth

Finally, I put a short description of each day. I haven’t finished this yet, but I’ve gotten started. In this, I put the title of the day (what I call it on the syllabus), as well as some broad topics we’re covering (AKA the main ideas it would nice for them to remember a bit about) and the take-aways. My take-aways are the tangible skills/products they will leave with at the end of the day. For example, after Day 1, my students should know the basics of programming in Prolog and will have some Icelandic that they’ve transcribed, which they will use for Day 2 to make a vowel classifier (also a take-away).

day details - course planning page - Expressing Elizabeth

Hope this can help you define your goals for your students when teaching and keep yourself focusing on these ideas!

Happy planning (and teaching)!

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Home Binder to Get Your Life Organized (with FREE printable!)

Home Binder to Get Your Life Organized with FREE printable - Expressing Elizabeth

Home binders are one of those things that you see all over Pinterest, which is pretty awesome! They’re also super useful! I tend to struggle with the ones I’ve found online, though, because they are all designed for families with tons of kids! Since that’s not applicable to me, I ended up just giving up for a long time. Then I made my own, which I’m sharing with you!

My boyfriend and I use our home binder all the time. It has a calendar in it for easy reference, lists of things we care about a lot (more about that below!), weekly calendars with all of the relevant activities, and more! I’m going to share how I set my home binder up and how you can get yours ready too!

The first thing that you see all the time with your home binder is the cover! Obviously you want it to be easy to identify, but also beautiful! I included both a front and a back cover, so it looks great!

I left the title space blank, so you can call your binder whatever works for you! I went with the descriptive, but boring “Home Binder” option.

Home Binder Cover - Expressing Elizabeth

A handy thing to put right in the front is a calendar that includes all of the dates for the year! I have a 2016 one included in the printable, and of course there will be an updated option in December to get ready for next year!

HomeBinder - Expressing Elizabeth Calendar

Sometimes you need more information than you can get on this page alone, so I also have these calendars split out to four-to-a-page with some lines. I write down all of the important dates for the months on the lines so that I can keep track of everything! Here’s what just one of those pages looks like!

HomeBinder - Expressing Elizabeth Dates

Here’s how I use it for myself!

Home Binder Monthly Dates - Expressing Elizabeth

I then include a bunch of lists that I find relevant to our lives. For us, that means a list of what we’ve fed our cats (we need to know what they don’t like!), a shopping list (where we put things that we need eventually, but not urgently), and a list of meal ideas (for when we don’t know what to make but don’t want to go out). I included both turquoise and orange versions of the list page in the printable set! I print them back-to-back and print a bunch of copies so I always have enough space for everything we need!

HomeBinder - Expressing Elizabeth Notes

Here’s what my meal ideas list looks like at the moment.

Home Binder List - Expressing Elizabeth

Finally, the most important part! The weekly calendar! This is where we put all of our activities that the other person needs to know about. AKA I don’t really need to know when his meetings are at work, but it’s good to know if he’s working late. And, of course, all of the activities we have planned to do together! I list the week that the current week is in the year, as well as the dates. Then I can keep track of where we are!

HomeBinder - Expressing Elizabeth Week

I color-code our calendars so that we know who is connected to each activity. My activities are in green, his are orange, and the activities we both do are in blue. I keep all three of these pens, plus black, in the front pocket of the binder so I never lose them! Here’s what our next week is looking like.

Home Binder Week - Expressing Elizabeth

Of course, to be able to successfully find everything in the binder, we need some tabs. I mark the important lists, plus I put a tab for the month on the first week of that month so I can skip right to the correct current location.

HomeBinder - Expressing Elizabeth Tabs

To use these tabs, all you do is cut one out, fold it in half, write whatever you want on it, and glue it to the page. Here’s an example!

Home Binder Tab - Expressing Elizabeth

On top of all of these things, I have a few other things that go in the binder, but I don’t have pages for. First, my town gives out a sheet of important phone numbers (the town hall, library, hazardous waste, etc.). This goes in the front pocket of the binder for easy reference. I also tuck some envelopes with receipts and Box Tops in the back of the binder so that I can add them as I collect them. I have some blank pages mixed in with the weekly pages so we can add to-do lists for house work, etc. Finally, I made a couple of pockets that I put take-out menus and empty envelopes in. I’ll share a tutorial soon on how to make these!

Home Binder Pocket - Expressing Elizabeth

Happy organizing!

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P.S. You can find the printable with all of the pages I talked about here. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date on the available printables!

Organize Your Qualifying Exam Readings (Or Really Any Readings!)

Organize Your Qualifying Exam Readings (Or Really Any Readings!) - Expressing Elizabeth

I’m currently in the middle of reading for my qualifying exams. It’s taking up all of my time, as you may have guessed. But, I’ve been super organized to keep myself on top of everything! I’m going to share how I keep everything together! You can use this for your own qualifying exams, or for any time that you need a read a ton of stuff!

Every qualifying exam (compulsory exam, whatever they’re called at your school) is a bit different. However, they typically involve reading a bunch of things and then answering questions. I have to read about 100 papers (103 to be exact), then spend 96 hours answering questions that my committee sends to me.

I find that I work best by printing out the papers to read. I did this all over several days at my office. I find that printing them out is super helpful in making sure that I understand all of the information in the articles. Plus I can underline important information and make notes in the margins! I even do this in different colored inks, so each day of reading gets its own pen to help keep me engaged! However, I also want to make sure that I have electronic information of all of the papers so that I can search them, reference them when away from the paper copies, etc. I will talk about how I get that all organized too!

In order to handle the full amount of pages (it’s a bit crazy how much space they all take up!), I have put everything into three different binders. Due to the requirements of my qualifying exam, I have three sections, so I could divide the papers into these same groupings, which is easy and natural.

reading organization binders - Expressing Elizabeth

For each of these, I added a cover page, which I found from How Does She. I also put in a binder spine with the section label, which I found from Vanilla Joy. This makes them more beautiful and easier to tell apart!

front closeup reading organization binders - Expressing Elizabeth

spine closeup reading organization binders - Expressing Elizabeth

Within each of the binders, I have subsections for the larger sections, so I put in some tabbed dividers that separate these as well!

tabbed dividers - Expressing Elizabeth

I then printed out the list of papers (the citations) for the relevant section and placed it in the front of the binder so that I can recall what is in each section and make them easier to find.

section readings list 2 - Expressing Elizabeth

I also have a couple of other ways to keep everything organized, as I discussed above. Everything is put into electronic form in addition to the paper form that I actually read. I have an excel spreadsheet, where I create my own summary of each of the papers, divided into sections. The important sections are:

  • Authors
  • Publication Date
  • Results
  • Findings
  • Journal
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Pages
  • Notes (where I put anything extra I want to say)

Finally, I have everything stored in Mendeley (my preferred reference management system, you can see other options here). I make sure that all of the information is appropriately filled out about the paper. I then add a bunch of tags, which will make the papers easier to find and reference when I get to answering questions! Tags are things like:

  • Section/subsection name
  • General field keywords
  • Specific field keywords
  • Methodology
  • Models discussed
  • Other terms that I think will be relevant to my research/questions

Hope this helps you get all of your reading organized!

Happy reading!

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