No matter what graduate school you attend, there is one thing that the students will have in common and that is too much work to do and too little time to complete it. As a grad student, it is important that you manage your time in an efficient, effective manner that works for you and your schedule. Learning how to prioritize tasks while pursuing your education can be a challenge.
Here are a few helpful suggestions on how to better manage your time:
• Pick your most productive times to do your homework. If you are a morning person you will do your best work early in the day and the opposite holds true for night owls.
•- Write your daily schedule on a calendar or planner and check it daily. If you have some unexpected free time, complete some prep work for a future assignment.
•- Between class periods and work breaks, read an assigned chapter from one of your courses or review lecture notes for an upcoming class.
• Overestimate the time required to complete assignments and extra work. This will prevent you from rushing from one task to another.
•- Organize your files and notes by course subject for quick referencing. Don't limit this process to just your in-class notes - apply it to the internet sites you've bookmarked as well as the electronic files on your computer.
• Develop a teamwork approach to housework and responsibilities on the homefront. Designate duties among family members to be completed on a regular schedule.
• Allot specific amounts of time for work, classes and family to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and others from feeling ignored. These specific time allotments will also help to keep you on schedule.
• Get up 1 to 2 hours earlier in the morning to aid in getting significant tasks completed.
• Prepare easy meals (i.e., casseroles or lasagna) in advance and freeze them for future use. Buy ready-made, pre-packaged salads and vegetables.
• Prepare ahead of time for the next day - iron outfits, put books and course material in your bag the night before.
• Seek study-related employment. This will help you put theories into perspective and allow you to grasp the point of assignments earlier.
• Set boundaries by acknowledging the limit of tasks you can complete each day. Do not try to complete schoolwork when you are supposed to be working. This will only put you behind and leave your boss with a bad impression. Even if you are planning on changing jobs upon graduation, this employer will undoubtedly be needed to provide a reference.
• Use breaks to email questions or assignments to profs or check out leading association websites in your new field and read about the hot topics in your industry.
• Use your lunch break to read the designated chapters.
It is important to create a time management style that works for you, and more importantly to create one that you can maintain. It may take some time and a few adjustments, but in the end your effort and organization may give you the edge you needed to succeed.