While I did not realize this at the time, being an overachiever led to poor time management and reduced productivity. I set very ambitious goals, and when I did not meet my deadlines, I drove myself harder.
I worked longer hours, sometimes to the point of complete exhaustion. I considered quitting graduate school because I did not see a way of out the dark tunnel I was in. I decided to stay in my program and I got my Ph.
D, but the long hours at work impacted both my mental and physical health. Due to scheduling conflicts in my last year, I only had 20 days between my final committee meeting and my thesis defense. This source time-line forced me to change how I structured my days, because my old work habits did not work anymore.
I had to put my thesis writing on fast-track, so I did just the opposite of what I had done before: I slowed down, and I stopped trying to do everything perfectly. The following time management strategies will help you to achieve your goals in the New Year without having to give up sleep, meals or your social life.
Unfortunately, as adult we are too scared to take action because we dread making mistakes. In a famous team-building game called the marshmallow challenge where the aim is to build the tallest structure with a marshmallow on topkindergartners consistently outperform business students in building taller and more interesting structures.
As expected, I had to edit my first draft several times, but I met my graduation deadline and I authored three first-author publications.
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I used to think it was great to have long stretches of time to write, and I set aside entire afternoons just click for source work on progress reports or powerpoint presentations.
I had to improve my time management strategies, because in addition to writing my thesis, I was also running experiments. I shut off my email and cell phone and started writing. It is amazing how much you can accomplish in a short time when you are focused and uninterrupted.
Some students find it helpful to do their writing sprints first thing in the morning, before they get interrupted or need to start putting out fires.
Make sure your phone and email are turned off, so you can put your attention fully on writing for just minutes. You might have noticed that ideas and errands pop into your head when you try to write.
The problem is that if you interrupt your writing to send an email or make a call, you will lose your train of thought — sometimes for the rest of the day. Your mind will not leave you alone until you do something about it. Surprisingly, most of your chores will not seem so urgent by the time you finish wiring. However, they will at least be out of your head and collected in one place, so you will feel on top of everything you need to attend to.
Responding to emails can distract you from your priorities and interfere with your concentration for the rest of the day. To make consistent progress, begin your day by doing the highest priority task, especially one that you have been putting off for a while.
I used to think that I was productive by getting email out of the way first thing in the morning, and right after lunch. Once I had to get my thesis done in 20 days, I only checked my email once a day in the late afternoon. This time management strategy saved me at least 30 minutes a day, and helped me to focus better early in the morning. There is a big difference between being productive, and bending over backwards just to please your supervisor.
For example, if your supervisor asks you to complete a task, it is more important that the assignment is done well, rather than quickly just to show that you are diligent unless there is urgency. Some supervisors have not done hands-on research for a while, or perhaps they are not an link in your particular topic. In the long run, you will end up frustrated and resentful, and perhaps not learn as much as you could have, if you had asked for help when you needed it.
In reality, a potluck party will survive without your special dish, and your friend can find another babysitter occasionally. Would you understand if he or she had to turn down an invitation to a potluck or babysitting to finish their thesis? Worrying by running catastrophic scenarios through your head is not productive, but you can turn worrying into productive energy.
The biggest worries that graduate students have is that they will never graduate, or that they will be the last one in their class to graduate. When you catch yourself worrying, do something about it. Start by talking with a close friend, or perhaps someone in your field who can give you technical advice if your project is stuck.
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The problem is that there are few deadlines in graduate school and mos of them are so far in the future monthsthat it is click to see more to get motivated today. Close friends who are non-judgmental can be very supportive and give you encouragement when you get stuck.
For this reason spouses or significant others are probably not the best accountability buddies. If your supervisor is available and willing to meet with you regularly, you can use those meetings to discuss the big picture and progress on milestones, not just the nitty-gritty details of your research.
These feelings will certainly not make you productive — in fact they will rob you of your self-confidence and make you even less productive. Beating yourself up leads to a vicious cycle of low productivity, followed by loss of self-esteem, which can eventually lead to complete loss of motivation and possibly even quitting graduate school.
But if you are looking for an alternative solution that will help you to reach your goals sooner, listen to some advice from Oprah Winfrey who was born into poverty and is now worth nearly 3 billion dollars:. I can tell you from personal experience that you will reach your goals a lot faster if you acknowledge yourself every baby step, so why not start today?
It is so easy to keep yourself busy — there are tons of emails in your inbox, infinite number of social media messages to respond to, a home that probably needs cleaning, and friends and family members asking you to do favors.
If you focus on getting through a to-do list and pleasing everyone, you will end up frustrated, not get everything or anything done, and you will certainly not please the people who are counting on you. If a goal is not supporting you, your mission, or your loved ones, you are doing yourself and the world a big disservice by sinking time into it. Make this the year when you focus on the most important goals and people in your life. What would you like to spend less time on, but feel obliged to do?
Leave a comment below and I will respond to you directly. Hi Dora, thank you for these tips. But I have problems with preparing for exams. Of course, I must work in the lab click at this page. Hi Anna, thanks for reaching out! I recommend structuring your day so you start out with the tasks that are most mentally challenging.
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