Finding of the week #322

A Good Presentation

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about a few simple guidelines that can help to prepare and to give a good presentation.

Giving a good presentation is a challenging task. One not only has to convey the relevant information of a certain topic, but also gain the attention of the audience. Providing too many information at once can be problematic. The audience then is still trying to comprehend the first few inputs while the speaker already is addressing further information that base on the previously given facts. As a result, the audience soon is lost and cannot follow the speaker anymore. Giving not enough information or just trying to make the presentation very entertaining might keep the audience’s attention, but will most likely not convey the intended message. In this way, it is important to find the sweet spot between providing the right amount of information at a time and still keeping it interesting to maintain the audience’s attention.

The probably most important thing of a good presentation is to evoke interest in the audience right from the beginning. This can be achieved by presenting a central problem or question at the start of a presentation. This approach then motivates the audience to think about the problem and to try to figure out an answer for themselves. In most cases, the given problem is quite complex and hence the audience is engaged in the talk to figure out how it was solved.

Personally, I then like to tease the audience with a short video that presents the core topic of the talk but avoids to be too specific. For instance, when discussing the effects of playing a serious game, it is beneficial to just show a few gameplay situations. This video gives the audience a better idea about the topic and helps them over the course of the talk to link the presented facts to the video. As a result, it is easier for the audience to follow the talk and to develop an understanding for the topic.

Following this introduction, one should present the underlying motivation for the project and embed the topic in a broader context to facilitate understanding. Subsequently, the presenter can start to discuss the own work and to present the results. The talk should be ended with a conclusion and an outlook for future work to give the audience an idea how the presented concept could be even improved. Finally, it is critical to answer the question presented at the start of the talk. This not only closes the story arch, but also provides a great opportunity to present the audience a take away message. The take away message contains the core findings and concepts of the presented topics. This take away message, as it is the last information given to audience, will stick in their heads and make the talk feel more relevant.

For presenting all those different segments of a talk, one should follow a few simple guidelines.

1) Rather use visual information than text. It is easy to just put a few bullet points in a slide. However, every bit of text that is shown during a presentation might distract the audience from the actual talk. Subconsciously, the will start reading the text and potentially stop listening to the presenter. In contrast, visual information are easier to comprehend and, more importantly, are more interesting to the human eye. As a result, using graphics maintains the attention of the audience and facilitates understanding.

2) Use the slides just as an aid to convey the information. The slides during a presentation are not intended to contain the same information as the talk itself. Instead, they should be used to either highlight key concepts or to provide the audience with examples for the orally given information. This not only makes the talk easier to understand, but it will also make it more entertaining.

3) Use the slides as a canvas and be bold. When throwing a slide at a wall using a beamer, one suddenly has access to a huge canvas. To take advantage of this canvas, it is important to use most of its space. Putting in a small image just in one corner of it makes it look very small and unimportant. Thus, try to consider fullscreen images or at least large images. This again will make your talk feel more substantial and more entertaining.

Of course, there are many more guidelines and important things to consider when preparing a presentation, but when keeping these three simple guidelines in mind, the resulting talk will keep the audience’s attention high. Also, the audience will have no difficulties to follow the talk and to understand the presented information.

Giving a good presentation also is even more important when speaking at a large event with several days of presentations. Over time, the audience gets exhausted and it becomes difficult for them to focus on a talk when it is not well made or visual appealing. Thus, by putting more effort into the preparation of a presentation, one can even keep the audience’s attention high during a talk on the last day of long conference.

In conclusion, this article presented a few guidelines that can help preparing a presentation that will gain and maintain the audience’s attention and facilitate their understanding.

Finding of the week #321

Being Part of a Huge Community

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I take a look back at CHI 2019.

CHI 2019 took place in Glasgow, UK.

Over the course of the last few days, I attended CHI 2019 – the biggest CHI ever with 3855 registrations in total. During the ACM CHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 703 papers were presented. While the first and the last day featured 3 time slots, the other two days even provided 4 time slots for the paper presentations. During a time slot, a maximum of 14 sessions simultaneously took place. Each session featured 4 presentations, thus resulting in the ultimate challenge to find a quick path between the various rooms to attend all presentations that were of personal interest.

Having returned home after these last few intense days, it still feels unbelievable to be part of such a large and amazing community. Following the motto of CHI 2019 – „Weaving Threads“ – the conference not only was about presenting significant scientific results, but also about making new connections and meeting new people.

CHI 2019 is the prime conference for the field of Human-Computer Interaction

This idea was fascilitated by the organizers who scheduled a „Newcomers reception“ on Sunday, a „Conference reception“ on Monday, and a „Glasgow Science Centre Reception“ on Wednesday. During these special events, all attendees could meet up and discuss their latest experiences. Furthermore, the organizers offered the opportunity to sign up for a special „lunch@chi“ event. The event was intended to give experienced and new attendees the chance to get together in one of the nearby restaurants. Finally, many parties were hosted over the course of the conference and provided further networking opportunities.

Looking over to the conference center

Looking back at CHI 2019, I am still impressed by the overall CHIndness of the attendees. Everyone was friendly and open for a discussion. In addition, after having made several new contacts, it nearly felt like coming home when I got back to the venue in the morning. Every time I grabbed a coffee took a break to walk through the open areas, I ran into one of the new friends and was having a fun conversation.

In the end, I will never forget these amazing six days I spent in Glasgow to attend CHI 2019.

Finding of the week #320

The Importance of a Good Mid-Game

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about the importance of providing a good mid-game to keep players excited over the course of the entire game.

The gameplay of a computer game can be separated into three distinct phases: early-game, mid-game, and late-game. During the early stages of a computer game, a player mostly has to learn the different game mechanics as well as the game controls. Also, players only have access to a few game mechanics, resources as well as technologies or skills. In this way, the early phase of a computer game often is very challenging as players have to find a way to overcome challenges with limited resources only.

When transitioning to the mid-game, players have gained access to most resources and the majority of the available game mechanics as well as technologies or skills. In this phase, players are challenged to improve their effectiveness and efficiency in their gameplay. For instance, when playing Factorio, players are challenged to transition from their first preliminary base to a very efficient base that has a high output of materials needed for the late-game.

Finally, once reaching the late-game, players have access to all game mechanics and technologies or skills. In this stage, players benefit from the work they put into the first two stages of the gameplay as they now can rapidly produce needed elements or tackle the most difficult challenges. In case of Factorio, a player can set up new production lines with ease as they mostly have access to an ever increasing number of produced goods. Thus, the late-game is the phase in which anything is possible and the potentially most epic events will take place.

As a result, players are challenged to find their way into the game during the early-game and to overcome the most difficult challenges during the late-game. During these two phases, players experience the greatest fun when playing a game. However, the mid-game often is connected to less exciting moments as players do not need to carefully think about their next steps anymore but also cannot tackle the highest challenges of the game. Thus, it is critical to provide players with some fun moments or clear tasks during the mid-game to keep the gameplay exciting.

Recently, I experienced a very good mid-game as I played Astroneer. I already researched most of the available technologies and visited all celestial bodies at least once. At this point, I thought that I will have an easier time from now on. However, as I wanted to transition to end-game technologies, I realized that producing them requires a lot of different resources that only can be found on a few planets. Thus, setting up bases on the surface of different celestial bodies suddenly became important.

Astroneer turned the mid-game into a very exciting phase by challenging me with a completely different objective. Until this point, I merely was exploring the solar system and bringing needed resources back to my base on the homeplanet. With the sudden need to set up bases on other celestial bodies, the entire gameplay changed and resulted in a high excitement on my side.

By changing a player’s focus from one aspect of the gameplay to a completely different aspect when transitioning from the early-game to the mid-game, the gameplay can remain exciting despite having gained access to the majority of the game mechanics. This can be achieved by providing a different kind of gameplay for each of the three phases. While this might be a challenging game design task, it is very beneficial for the overall enjoyment of the computer game.

In conclusion, by providing different levels of gameplay for each of the three core phases of a computer game, each individual phase not only feels different, but also increases a player’s overall enjoyment.

Finding of the week #319

The Way is the Goal

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about the common approach of using guides and walkthroughs to beat a computer game.

When trying to figure out how one can complete a certain task, using the internet often is a valuable source of information. There are tutorials and video guides for almost every topic which explain the performance of an activity in detail. Reading or watching these information allows for the development of a comprehensive understanding.

In this way, searching the internet when tackling a new activity has become a common approach. Instead of first trying to figure out a solution to a specific problem, one prefers to look up information right away as it is more convenient. This is a good approach for crafting things or cooking meals as it can save materials and result in great outcomes.

However, searching for guides and walkthroughs for activities that are supposed to be challenging seems rather weird. Here, it is not about achieving perfect outcomes, but about the ability to find creative solutions. Strangely, many computer game players quickly refer to guides when they encounter the first difficulties during their gameplay. It seems that beating the game is more important than putting the own skills and creativity to a test.

Naturally, the decision how to tackle a difficult computer game is up to every player. Those who intend to be challenged most likely will avoid to use guides at all costs while other players who just like to experience the story might use walkthroughs. Things only become complicated when the two player types meet each other.

This was a common problem as I played World of Warcraft as my raid group constantly used guides instead of trying to figure out how to defeat a specific boss. Currently, I mostly experience this problem either when uploading gameplay videos to YouTube or by watching Let’s Play videos or streams of other content creators. Here, viewers often provide (unwanted) tipps how to successfully play the game.

As a result, it would be great when players who just like to experience the story accept the fact that others like to be challenged and to come up with own solutions. Also, seen from a game design point of view, it would be interesting when players would try to beat a game on their own, especially when it is designed to be difficult.

In conclusion, while it is a valid approach to use walkthroughs for a computer game, it takes away some aspects of the overall gameplay experience. Certain computer games are designed to be difficult and overcoming the challenges is part of the experience.

In the end, the way is the goal.

Finding of the week #318

Lost to the Sands of Time?

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about the problems that occur when trying to play older computer games.

It is Eastern and hence a very good opportunity to take a few days off and visit my parents. Staying in my old room, I can see my collection of computer games I bought and played as a teenager. Looking through the titles brings back some great memories and the desire to play some of them again: Commandos, Unreal Tournament, Command and Conquer Red Alert, Tomb Raider, The Settlers 2, Half-Life, etc.

Playing the games of the Commandos series was a fantastic time. The strategy games challenged a player with the goal to complete difficult missions with only a handful soldiers of which each had unique abilities. In this way, players had to combine those abilities to silently move through the maps and complete the objectives, e.g., destroying a dam or taking out a dangerous sniper. Thus far, the tactical real-time strategy gameplay of Commandos is unmatched.

However, since these good old days, new technologies were developed, computers became more powerful and new operating systems got released. As a result, it is not easy or sometimes even impossible to get older games running, again. When aborting to try to get such an old game running again, I often feel sad as it seems that I will never ever play it again despite still having access to the software itself.

Similar to books and movies, computer games have become an integral part of our culture. Some of these games, especially those that represent an important milestone in the history of gaming, need to be preserved and made available to future generations. This, however, also comes with the requirement to either preserve the technology on which the games are running or to develop a framework that can emulate specific systems on modern computers.

In conclusion, computer games are a part of our culture. Older games need to be kept running to preserve important milestones for future generations. Otherwise, they might be never experienced again and thus be lost to the sands of time.

Finding of the week #317

Patience Needed

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about the constant requirement to be patient while pursuing a Ph.D.

Achieving a Ph.D. not only opens up the possibility to work in different positions in academia, it also means to complete the highest educational degree. In this way, the pursuit of a Ph.D not necessarily has to be simple or doable for everyone. It requires a lot of dedication and hard work.

One has to research the theoretical background and develop new theories that base on the literature. Subsequently, those theories have to be tested and to be evaluated in experiments. The results obtained during the experiments then need to be discussed and to be published in a journal or presented at a conference. This approach takes a lot of energy and often requires some detours.

However, the road to Ph.D also features many events one cannot control nor influence as they depend on others. A paper has to be accepted by reviewers before it can be published. During this review process, the paper cannot really be touched as one has to wait for the final decision of the review. This, unfortunately, can take several months of time. If one got the right reviewers, the paper is accepted and needs only a few changes. If the reviewers are not agreeing with the paper’s contribution, the paper gets rejected. In this way, the several month-long waiting period can also be a loss of time as one has to go through the waiting period again when resubmitting the paper to a different conference.

While this is the normal process of publishing scientific results, other elements that take patience are mostly related to receiving feedback that is important for moving on to a next step. Here, a Ph.D student is mostly dependent on the time of their advisors who are involved in other tasks and thus have to prioritize. While this is fully understandable, a meeting that would only take 5 minutes often results in a delay of several months. As a result, a Ph.D candidate frequently experiences a high degree of frustration.

In those moments, it is helpful to talk to other Ph.D while attending scientific events. It seems that everyone experiences the same problems during the career and thus can fully relate to this frustration. Unfortunately, as long as one does not decide to move to a next step with the risk to make a huge mistake, there is no way around the waiting game.

Patience is needed …

Finding of the week #316

The Value of Everything

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about how computer games could initiate a rethinking process that ultimately makes the world to a better place.

Recently, as I was evaluating my lunch options, I saw the following offer at a small bistro: „Chicken wings and fries – €2.50“. Although this might sound like a great lunch opportunity, it seemed not very appealing to me. How can food be this cheap and still be healthy? The poor chickens must have lived under terrible conditions to be finally sold for such a low price.

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our culture enjoys a lot of meat-based meals which currently are offered at a very low price. This generates a huge demand for meat. To fulfill this demand and to keep the price low, meat has to be mass-produced. As a result of this, the way to handle the animals needs to be as efficient as possible. Their food needs to be cheap and their living space needs to be as small as possible to fit the highest number of animals into a particular area.

Fulfilling these conditions comes at the price of the animals‘ quality of life. They need to be vaccinated to reduce the chances of deseases and be kept under control so that they do not attack each other. Overall, this results in the animals living under terrible conditions to fulfill the high demand for cheap and meat-based food.

These problems, however, are often overlooked by the consumers. The only important thing is the price when it comes to selecting a product. Therefore, to start initiating a change of this process, it is important to raise the general awareness for these problems. Computer games could be one approach to achieve this goal.

Computer games could demonstrate the conditions under which the animals live by putting the player into the role of such an animal. This, however, would not really help to initiate a rethinking, as it provides not enough information about the decisions involved in the food production process. A potentially more effective way would be to involve the player in the complexity of the food industry by designing a tycoon-like computer game.

This game needs to evolve around the goal to effectively and efficiently lead a food company. While the player’s main goal should still be to achieve commercial success, other factors such as the happiness of the animals as well as the quality of the produced products have to play an important role. If designed well, this kind of computer game can inform players about the complexity of the food production as well as the side effects of mostly aiming for cheap products.

In conclusion, while computer games might not address the majority of the consumers, they still can start to initiate a rethinking. Players of these computer games might get convinced that they can put pressure on the food industry by selecting different products. Also, they can discuss the lessons learned with others and convince them as well.

Finding of the week #315

Between Entertainment and Long Lasting Impact

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about computer games I will remember for a very long time and those I will not.

When I think back to my computer game playing experience, then a few titles always will pop up in my mind first. For instance, I will always remember having played the Mass Effect series, Kerbal Space Program, and Assetto Corsa. But why are more memorable than games like Company of Heroes or Transport Fever which also kept me entertained while playing them?

The reason for their memorability lies in their game design that either resulted in a highly emotional gameplay or in a gameplay that allowed for a fair competition between players. Emotions are always real to us no matter if they are evoked by a real or by a virtual event. Emotions are also very deep experiences that are easily memorized and triggered when thinking back to a particular event.

The Mass Effect series puts the player into the role of a spaceship’s commander. During the gameplay, the game’s narrative challenges the player with the task to protect an entire galaxy from an enemy that intends to wipe out all living species. The player, however, is not alone but has virtual companions. Each of these crew member has an own personality and, depending on the players decisions during the gameplay, has a different fate. For instance, the player can have a love affair with members of the crew and sometimes even is responsible for deciding which of the crew members has to sacrifice its own life to protect the rest of the crew. In this way, the player creates strong emotional bonds to the virtual agents that start to feel real as the gameplay progresses. These emotions are what make Mass Effect to a very memorable computer game.

In contrast, Kerbal Space Program features no emotional narrative. However, the game’s difficulty is relatively high. The game mechanics encode knowledge about orbital mechanics that has to be understood by the players to successfully play the game. This not only results in a very steep learning curve, but also in very exciting moments when the player achieves a personal goal, e.g., landing on the Mun, and realizes that they have acquired new knowledge in this process. This challenge-based rewarding moment also evokes strong emotions in the player which subsequently result in the game being memorized as a very positive experience. Thinking back to playing Kerbal Space Program then triggers these emotions again, thus making this game to a very special game in a player’s history.

Allowing for a fair competition ultimately results in a very emotional gameplay as well. Assetto Corsa is a highly realistic racing game that provides players with the opportunity to perform virtual car races that put their own driving skills to a test. For instance, players can race against each other driving the same type of car which then results in no driver having an advantage due to balancing issues. This kind of gameplay induces a (friendly) competition among the players, especially when they participate in championships and compete over a longer period of time against each other. This competition, the challenge to practice and to train the own skills, and to ultimately celebrate small victories evokes positive (and sometimes also negative) emotions in the players. Thinking back to playing Assetto Corsa triggers these emotions again which also make this type of game to a very special memory.

In contrast to these games, other games merely provide some entertainment during their actual gameplay. They might even motivate a player to continue playing the game to collect all possible achievements, but at the end of the day, only light emotions were triggered during the gameplay. As a result, no or only weak emotional bonds are created to these games which make them seem less memorable when thinking about great games that truly influenced us.

In conclusion, while almost all computer games entertain a player, only those are truly perceived as great computer games that evoke strong emotions in the player during the gameplay. This also is an important insight for game designers who like to create serious games or to increase the motivation using a gamification approach. Creating a gameplay that evokes strong emotions potentially achieves the best results.

Finding of the week #314

Three Types of Exploration

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about the different types of an exploration-based gameplay: travel-based, challenge-based, and resource-based

Personally, I am a huge fan of computer games that put a strong focus on the exploration of the virtual environments. The exploration aspect can be categorized in three main types: 1) a travel-based exploration, 2) a challenge-based exploration or a 3) resource-based exploration. Depending on the type, the exploration has a different role in the overall gameplay.

A travel-based exploration requires a fully explorable vast virtual environment that consists of several special features, such as waterfalls, spectacular vantage points, or hidden ruins inside of deep forests. These special features can be discovered by traveling through the environment. Here, the exploration either is the core element of the gameplay, e.g., when playing a walking simulator, or an optional aspect of the overall gameplay, e.g., when playing an open world role-playing game.

A challenge-based exploration lays a higher focus on the exploration of the virtual environment during the gameplay. In contrast to a mere travel-based exploration, this type requires the player to find a way to overcome obstacles. For instance, when playing Kerbal Space Program, a player has to design spacecraft that have the correct performance when aiming at the exploration of specific celestial bodies. The spacecraft not only has to reach the celestial body, but also to be powerful enough to deal with the environment, e.g., a strong gravity. In this way, a challenge-based exploration provides players with concrete goals for exploration that determine the overall gameplay.

Finally, a resource-based exploration allows a player to refine resources during the gameplay to craft more powerful items. This requires a player to find these resources first. In this way, the gameplay challenges a player to explore the virtual environment to find and to obtain all the basic resources. This often bases on the requirement to explore all regions and zones of the virtual environment. For instance, when playing Minecraft, a player needs to dig down to the so-called bedrock layer to find diamonds which are one of the most valuable resources in the game.

The three types can also be combined to provide different forms of exploration at the same time. Once having landed on the surface of a celestial body in Kerbal Space Program, a player can travel on the surface with the astronauts either on foot or using vehicles that have to be landed there first.

While travel-based exploration and challenge-based exploration follow simple rules, a resource-based exploration can be difficult to design. Here, players need to be made aware of the existence of all resources to initiate the exploration process. Also, players need to be informed how and where a certain resource can be found. Otherwise, a player might either miss some crafting recipes or experience frustration when feeling stuck during the exploration.

For instance, as I was searching for a specific resource on the home planet in the full release version of Astroneer, I felt stuck because I was not able to find it. Also, the game did not provide me with information that the resource could not be found on the home planet. In this way, I spend a long time digging deeper and deeper into the planet until I finally decided to abort this approach to try out to fly to a different planet in the virtual environment of Astroneer. As soon as I launched into space, the game provided me with a map of all the existing planets and informed me about the resources that can be found on them. Thus, to avoid this kind of frustration, it is important to provide players with hints or game mechanics to find out where specific resources can be found when implementing the resource-based exploration.

In conclusion, a computer game can provide three main types of exploration. Depending on the type, some additional information are required to avoid evoking a frustration in the player. The exploration types may be combined in the same computer game.

Finding of the week #313

Ideas for (Mentally) Surviving the Time as a PhD Student

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about some recommendations for new PhD students that most likely will help to overcome the stress experienced.

The pursuit of a PhD is a very difficult and stressful time when simultaneously working in academia. The challenge even increases when the assigned research projects are only connected to a small degree to the PhD topic as well as when teaching has to be done. In such a scenario, the PhD always comes last and can often be continued after work only.

In such a situation, it is critical to organize one’s day carefully and to work as efficiently as possible. One approach is to either use existing guidelines for certain work processes or to try to define own protocols that support reoccurring events such as grading students at the end of the lecture period. Here, it is very practical to define strict goals that can easily be checked during an exam. Also, using a similar approach to conduct the exams simultaneously allows for an easy repetition as well as for a fair grading process.

The same rules apply to research projects. It is very helpful to create guidelines and protocols that support the planning of future experiments. By using these protocols, one merely has to go through the individual steps to prepare a new experiment and to avoid mistakes that could even negatively affect the experimental results.

However, for these methods to be effective, it is also important to reflect on the outcomes of a repeated application and to update the protocols based on the results of the analysis. In this way, the own workflow not only is streamlined, but also improved over time.

Still, even with a perfectly streamlined workflow, things frequently turn out to be different and result in additional tasks that were not expected. As a result of this, one often experiences a high degree of frustration as the progress of the PhD once again gets delayed. In addition, when finally being able to work towards it, the work has a high mental demand that can result in a quick exhaustion.

Therefore, aside from improving the own workflow, it is even more important to find activities that help to reduce the experienced frustration and to regain energy to stay focussed during stressful times. Personally, I can recommend activities that do not include the use of digital media, e.g., doing sport, as most of the time at work is already spent in front of a computer screen. The probably best approach is to set up a fixed schedule. Adhering to such a schedule results in the requirement to take a break and thus to regain energy before the degree of frustration becomes too high.

In summary, pursuing a PhD is a very stressful goal that requires a high degree of self-organization and, more importantly, activities to counteract the stress that is experienced.