With the constant distraction around us, whether that is in the form of emails, text messages, alerts, tweets, whatsapp, gchat etc, it is no surprise that many of us are constantly finding little room for reflection. As I found a moment a two last week as the sunshine was pouring into the city, and my wheelie was producing far too much noise pollution (see below), I suddenly had a chance to reflect on the unorthodox tools that help me as a PhD researcher. These are my top three ‘unorthodox tools’ I can’t live without (not in order of importance):

1. My wheelie (pic below) to wheel my laptop, books and notes. I wont deny that my OH almost always insists on carrying the shopping bags whilst I stroll along empty handed alongside him. Hence, when I was faced with carrying a 17-inch laptop, plus books and notes around campus, I have to admit I did freak out a little (my arms were a little sore). Then I saw my supervisor with a wheelie, I just had to get one. Since that day, we have never parted! However, I have been found complaining on a few occasions regarding the noise pollution it creates. When I walk into the open plan office at Warwick, I don’t need to let anyone know about my presence, it does it for me. Yet, I find myself wondering every other week: Has a silent wheelie been invented? Or should I add that to my even increasing post-PhD to do list? 😉

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2. My food flask  (pic below) as it allows me to have homemade left overs such as curry at work. It is the only food flask that doesn’t require one to heat it up using boiling water, all it needs is a couple of minutes in the microwave. Voila 🙂

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3. The practice of daily meditation and reflection. It helps keep my research and life into perspective.

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So what are the top three ‘unorthodox tools’ that help you as a PhD researcher, or ones you can’t live without?

This post was originally published on the Research Exchange blog in 2013.