Time management in general is a topic of special interest to me. In my personal life, I have always found it a bit of a challenge. Often due to my unrealistic time plans that have sometimes got me into trouble with friends and family! But this has also helped me to spend time reflecting on how I deal with time.But now back to time management in my professional life.
As you all know, PhD projects are such long-term large projects that a good time planning is essential. I will start saying: I love to-do lists! I love the feeling of crossing with my pen a task I have completed (and I have even developed a system for half crossing a task to remind myself that I have worked on something but it is not yet under the category of completed).
I have not yet been able to switch my paper lists for an online version but if you like to-do lists like me, you might want to try Wunderlist (https://www.wunderlist.com) as I had it recommended from various friends and colleagues. I gave it a go for my personal life and I also think that it has a lot of potential for my work. Something to explore…What really helps me is some of things I learned in a time management course I attended at the start of my PhD. Daily time planning is OK but it is essential to make the link with weekly time planning lists. These weekly time planning lists are themselves linked to the broad aims of your PhD project in order to avoid loosing perspective of your objectives.
Another point I learned and that I try to put into practice is to make realistic lists based on prioritization. Finishing a day and feeling frustrated because I have not been able to ‘tick’ any of my to-do’s is often because in the first place my list was unrealistic. Some people recommend to choose 5 items of your to-do list so you are forced to complete (or consciously abandon) those items before adding new ones.
Finishing a day and feeling frustrated because I have not been able to ‘tick’ any of my to-do’s is often because in the first place my list was unrealistic.
Also, I had to accept that things always take longer than planned and I try to I tell myself to double the time when making my to-do list. Have you ever thought how difficult it is to focus when you see that small envelope telling you have a new email…I find it difficult to always do this, but keeping my outlook closed during the specific time that I have given myself to finish a task (especially for writing a manuscript) is a great exercise that helps me be more effective.And finally, I had to accept that it is not possible to literally do everything as time is limited. I try to focus on those things that I can deliberately neglect …but I am still learning to not feel guilty about it! All of this might seem basic but I am still working on it.
Anything sounds familiar here? Or have you already mastered all of this?
Feel free to comment on my post or share with us what works for you!
p.s I will finish with a PhD comics on to-do lists as these always help http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1350