Time Management for Graduate Students

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TIME MANAGEMENT FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
Academics around the world face a similar problem: time management. The result of looming publication deadlines, lofty research goals, or lingering projects, the anxiety that accompanies poor time management can be paralyzing. Managing time, organizing research, and producing text can be difficult, particularly when you have too much (time, research, or text) or too little. The pace of study changes considerably upon entry to graduate school; the papers and the deadlines are longer. You may begin work at a leisurely pace, but within weeks of the first deadline, it will become evident that you require planning, priorities, and productive routines. This publication will outline how you can effectively manage and organize your time, while balancing research, writing, and teaching responsibilities. You will find strategies and tools for long-term and short-term planning, all devised from working with graduate students like you. Beyond practical planning suggestions, we discuss procrastination and motivation, and we offer advice to help you build momentum in your writing – often the biggest hurdle for graduate students. anxiety often associated with unclear direction, undefined goals, and lack of balance.

Keys to Time Management
1. Build productive routines: Most productive scholars will tell you that they have set times and routines for their work. Some write every morning for several hours. Others set aside certain days of the week for their research. If you establish fixed times for tasks, you are less likely to doublebook or to shirk a responsibility. So, just as you call your sister every Thursday or walk the dog at noon everyday, set times for the lab, the library, or lecture prep at a regular time and day. Where you can, make your routines work with your natural rhythms: if you are a morning person, you might set time for writing from 7-9 am every day. Scheduling work that is frustrating or tedious for the afternoon, when you are hitting a daytime lull, will make it difficult; instead think about active tasks that may keep you going, like field work or marking papers. 2. Use time for one purpose so that you can focus on that purpose: How often do you stray from an online article or your paragraph that goes nowhere to your email, YouTube, or cbc.ca? Email can take up considerable time and energy; schedule time to deal with email, read the news or skim your Facebook newsfeed that is separate from your times for writing or research. When it is time to write, research, or sort data, do only that task. Leave associated tasks or complete time-wasters for later. Some students use free software to disable their internet access while they write;

The Fundamentals of Time Management
Perhaps the concept of time management is problematic for you; it might connote a misperception that humans can control time. Or perhaps you believe that any management of your writing or research project may stifle your creative or analytical ability. However, time management is necessary for academics because it allows them to define and achieve goals, to establish a balance in their multiple roles, and to ease the

others set up separate accounts on their computers – one for work, one for personal. 3. Be honest with yourself. Unsuccessful time management plans are built on unrealistic expectations and broken promises. If you do not normally write ten pages in a day or create five tables in an afternoon, do not build your entire project plan around these expectations. Be sure to build in time for planning, reviewing, and re-organizing. When setting goals, be specific and realistic; consider all of the tasks that will go into writing a chapter or preparing to teach a lab. 4. Plan for now and later. Develop a time management plan that establishes a regular schedule within the context of long-term goals and commitments. Survey the “big picture” of your work: identify problem periods, see the cycles in your...
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