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The new academic year has finally started! Time to replace your shorts with your lab coat, the sunglasses with the safety glasses and the beer glasses with test tubes.
I know that making many changes is always difficult, so I’ve prepared a series of blog posts on tips to survive your PhD this year!
This first blog post is about time management.
—– Five tips to manage your time —–
1. Plan your time effectively
Set yourself small/manageable goals to work towards in advance, to avoid last minute stress. For this you can use an excel sheet, your outlook calendar or a simple word document.
YourFormula recommends you create your to-do-list by degree of importance; like that you can quickly identify the activities you should focus on. Keep in mind that urgent is not the same as important. Urgent but not important activities are things that stop you achieving your goals, and prevent you from completing your work.
If you have a smart phone I recommend you to use the Eisenhower app. It will definitely help manage your to-dos.
2. Get to know yourself
Find out what type of worker you are – do you work best in the morning or evening? Do you prefer to work in the silence or with music? This will have a high influence on the productivity of your work. Once you understand this, you can adapt your schedule to the timing/ambience you prefer and consequently, you are going to achieve better results.
There are different quizzes on the Internet that can help you define if you´re a morning or evening person; you can try this one from the New York Times.
3. The monthly progress
Is also very important that sometimes you step back and have an overview on the work you did in the few past weeks. Sometimes we are so focused on the daily tasks that we forget our general objectives, and where our efforts should lead us. It is crucial that you stay on track to achieve your goals.
For this I would recommend that at the beginning of the month you set a list of priorities according to the projects you’re working on at the moment.
At the end of the month make a quick analysis answering the following questions:
- Did I achieve the results I wanted?
- Am I following the right path to achieve the conclusions I need?
- How could I be more productive the following month?
4. Stay flexible
Don´t forget that you´re conducting research, which means that the element of the unknown will play a big role in your timing.
If you need to change plans or you have a last minute urgency, stay calm, adapt yourself and play with the to-do list;
maybe you can reschedule a task.
Don´t forget to inform your supervisor if you think that action will have an impact on your general work.
5. Time to have fun
Keep in mind that you also need to have fun, and extra PhD activities should also be part of your daily planning.
Make time for your friends and family, and for the activities that you like to do.
Choose one extracurricular activity and do it at least once per week. Music, dance, theater or cooking classes are just some examples that can fill your free time.
Do you have other tips? Share them with us!