Hello all! My second grad tip for surviving graduate school is time management. As I’m typing this I am avoiding doing my math project and beginning my comprehensive list of pulsar wind nebulae (err…Sorry, Dan. I’ll do it next, I promise) but, that’s okay! I have my schedule worked out to include the days when I’m able to knock out a bunch of stuff and the days where I hit a lull or road block one way or another (that’s today). I don’t procrastinate so if I can’t get to an assignment at a certain time that I’ve aimed for, it’s okay. I’ll get to it later because I have time. So, speaking about time. Let’s talk about how to manage it. I’ll share my three secrets (omg!) to managing time in a manner that allows you to be efficient and productive and, if implemented right, you have plenty of time left for you and your body (eat a decent meal, maybe?).

My three tips to getting the most out of your normal work/school day:
1. Keep an agenda or day planner. I use this one.


The agenda I use.

My Oct 1 day schedule (as you can see, I have not yet done two tasks. I’ll do one after this post and the other tomorrow!).
  • Make a list of all the things you need to do for that week and then give each day a portion of those tasks to complete. Be sure to consider deadlines!
  • It’s okay if you can’t complete all of the tasks you designated for a specific day. Simply highlight out the tasks you were able to complete and move the leftover tasks to either the next day or another day in the week (if this assignment’s due date allows of course).
  • Balance the hard tasks vs. the smaller, less time-consuming tasks. Don’t schedule a bunch of hard, long, math problems to do all on Wednesday. Layer it throughout the week so you don’t spend too much time hating yourself all at once.

​To the left is an example: My weekday schedule. ​You can see project I is on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. This is both because I couldn’t get to the project today and also because it’s a project so it will require more time than one weekly time slot.

PROS: Get your shit together. ​

CONS: Never remember to do another thing in your life without the agenda telling you.
2. Stay organized. If you don’t have to spend 15 minutes every morning looking for your keys, you have that time to get to work and maybe get a better parking spot! (Or drive for 30 minutes on campus desperately looking for an available space……WHY IS EVERY COLLEGE LIKE THIS?!). Here are some things I do to keep myself organized:

  • You know those deep clean binges you go on occasionally where for a small window of time everything in your life is just about clean and in a proper place? (I wonder if this really does apply to most of us? I think I’m smelling another survey at the bottom of this post). Anyways, start there. Then, practice cleaning up after yourself. I’m seriously not trying to be rude! But we all subconsciously misplace things and generally clutter things up because we forget to put them back. I still have to practice the habit of cleaning up after myself. If you stay consistent, it’ll eventually become a habit and you won’t have a cluttered house to anxiously and aggressively clean when you’re feeling panicky or spend those 15 minutes looking for your wallet or your phone.

Sorry, Kirsten.
OOOR, you can be like me and artfully place a bagel on a paper towel on top of your cell phone while visiting friends in Belgium and then freak tf out for 20 minutes about how I probably left my phone in a Belgian’s car because I can’t find my phone and then later go to eat my bagel and then… well, then I realized I needed to apologize for my attitude. 
PROS: You will lose stuff less and waste less time cleaning, organizing, and finding misplaced items.
CONS: Requires some self discipline and habit forming.*

*Is this really a con tho?

3. SLEEP. My dear friends, the kindest gift I can give to you is to convince you to get enough sleep. A clear, working, productive mind is one that is well fed and well rested. Sleeping enough and generating a good sleep routine can help you start the day feeling ready to take on the tasks you designated specifically for that day. A clear, focused mind is the best mindset to be in when you need to have your A game. 
PROS: You get more sleep! 
Cons: DNE (does not exist)

Don’t be this guy.
Through keeping good time management by following these tips, you could virtually say goodbye to:

  • All-nighters (I’ve literally never pulled one. I’m in bed by 9pm. If it’s a particularly stressful day maybe 11pm. Lol)
  • Missing deadlines (at least minimize the occurrences, that is.)
  • Missing meetings or appointments
  • Sloppy assignments turned in with a lack of understanding (because you were rushing!)
  • Procrastination

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