“Time Management” in Grad School? Whet?

Graduate school is not very demanding.

*Record Scratch*

Said. No. One. Ever.

Every time I check my email or look at my calendars I have a looming deadline, new suggestions for a meeting, or request for my attendance at an event. Prior to grad school, I prided myself on setting time to complete various tasks to make my week easier. As I moved through the graduate schooling process, I’ve realized how ineffectively I managed my time and that it often had nothing to do with me being organized. 

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Although this realization came a semester later than I would have liked, the changes I’ve made since have been life changing. So, how do I manage my time? It’s really simple actually. 

Everyday I compose to-do list with priorities. Depending on the day my list varies in size. After I establish my list, I start with the priorities that  are most convenient for me.  I also establish time goals for my priorities. For instance, if I have a paper due on Friday at 11:59pm, my to-do list will have two or three hours next to it. I’ll admit I get carried away with work sometimes so I use my Clock app on my phone to make sure I stay within the allotted time period. Also, I suggest pausing the timer when you take breaks or have to stop for a while. By the time I complete the priorities on my to-do list, I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. There’s no greater feeling than scratching something off a list–am I right or nah?

With each completed task, I’m encouraged to do other more on my to-do list. This helps me complete school work and socializing while not procrastinating. Although I don’t always complete my to-do list, I find the list and act of finishing items helpful with time management.

time-management.png Since the goal of graduate school is not to remember every little detail about every little thing, I recommend allotting time to course reading for the week and skimming where you can. Some of my colleagues prefer to read the night before class, I’ve been told it helps retain information. Yeah, whatever. But this doesn’t hold true for me. Since my schedule does not allow me to read the night before class and do the things I need to do to take care of me, I complete my readings and small assignments (like discussion board posts) in order of due date for the week.So I allocate 8 to 10 hours to reading for classes and discussion posts. The range is between 8 to 10 hours because some weeks my reading load is denser than other weeks. I don’t complete all of my work in one sitting or day. Sometimes I break it up over two or three days. I know I can not read everything. Combined, these time management practices give me more free time to complete writing assignments and relax. I recognize that grad school is important. However, it does not have to consume all of your time.

In an effort to maximize my efforts, I allocate 8 to 10 hours to reading for classes and discussion posts. The range is between 8 to 10 hours because some weeks my reading load is denser than other weeks. I also try to avoid completing all of my work in one sitting or on a single day. Oftentimes I break it up over two or three days with an awareness that I can not read everything. By focusing on the things that I deem as most important, I still have time to have a life outside of school and to manage relationships with friends and family that are sometimes equally as important to me. 

Combined, these time management practices also give me more free time to complete writing assignments and relax. I recognize that grad school is important. But if there’s anything my time management practices should make clear it is that I refuse to allow it to consume all of my time. Neither should you, sis. 

  

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