Time Management

You may not have noticed (ha!), but graduate school places a lot of competing demands on your time. The bad news is that the more you progress, and the better you do, the more you will be asked to do. But the good news is that you are largely in charge of what opportunities you pursue, and over what time frame.

Consider these time management philosophies:

First decide how much you will work. If you don’t protect your time off, you won’t have any, and you have to do this first. You deserve time off. (You require time off.)

Honor and plan your commitments to yourself just like would a colleague. Mark on your calendar when you will work on something and then follow through. This includes saying no to competing appointments that may present. Build trust with yourself by your consistency in this.

Also make appointments for time off, and honor these appointments.

Be very clear on items that require your 100% versus those that will truly be OK with your 80%. A dissertation idea requires all you’ve got. Studying for a test might not. It’s OK not to give 100% to all items at all times.

Know when to say no, and do so.

Beware email. Responding to email all day may not be furthering your work, or the work you really need to focus on. Consider email management strategies, which might include having a set time every day for email response, always emptying your inbox, only ever opening an email once and then acting (rather than coming back to it multiple times), and others. A few hours spent researching email management might have big pay-offs.

Notice, and manage, emotion that might be in reality taking up a lot of time. Are you stressing that you don’t know how to proceed? Do you think you aren’t up to the task? Are you irritated at colleagues or manuscript reviewers? Are you bored? Is there a personal matter that you really need to take care of? The goal is not to prevent the emotion from cropping up, but in recognizing and dealing with it pro-actively rather than letting it constantly storm across your fabulous mind, preventing it from focusing on the work at hand.

Work with your inherent mental reward system by finishing work. Every finish will itself give you a little mental hit. Wrapping something up can be really difficult. So notice your finish. And then do it again, and again, and again.

With gratitude to D.S.