It is not my place to give advice about being an academic, but here I go anyway.
- Use a reference manager. Paperpile serves me well. Have a label or a folder for each paper you’re working on. You want to use a reference manager since your pdfs will make a garbled mess in no time. And it’s a pain to write the references into BibTex again and again and again! Some of the reference managers assist with note-taking too, but I don’t know, I suck at taking notes.
- Write down propositions and proofs as you discover them. Do it in the proper format, with definitions and all. When a proposition or proof is correct, mark the proposition as “uncertain” or similar! This will help your future self a lot. Even better, write the certainty in degrees, but I don’t know how to do that in practice.
- Don’t edit while you write. Focus on jotting down the main points, not on style. I suppose you should write proper English, but that’s it.
- Document and test your software. Again, your future self will thank you. For he will need to know if your software is reliable. And he cannot do that without documentation and test.
- Start thinking about your audience and journal right away when you start a project. Download and become familiar with the template. Make an outline right away to structure your paper.
- Use Github to structure your work. Version control is good for not losing work, but Github also has a nice issue tracker. Learn to use it and profit.