It’s October and that means that the days are getting shorter even as to-do lists get longer and deadlines draw nearer. For many people, especially grad students, this is an overwhelming time and, while it can occasionally feel impossible to get on top of everything and hit the reset button, there are strategies for effectively managing your way through it and of taking control back from your Outlook calendar or academic planner. Check out these posts on effectively managing your time from GradHackers past and present.
Breaking the Tech Addiction by Andrew Bishop
While technology can be a phenomenal tool in upping your productivity, social media and other forms of tech can easily become a distraction and drain away surprisingly large amounts of time. Based on his experience implementing ideas from Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism, Bishop offers suggestions for limiting technological distraction and focusing on the work in front of you. In monitoring and limiting your engagement with certain forms of tech, Bishop suggests, "you will begin to see just how ingrained your desire to visit certain websites has become." One of the first steps in time management is understanding where your time goes and Bishop's suggestions are a great place to start this process.
The Lost Art of Doing One Thing at a Time by Katie Shives
"As the ability to multitask has become a must-have skill for most graduate students," Shives says, "it is easy to forget about the benefits of doing only one thing at a time." This is never more true than during the super busy parts of the semester when there are a multiplicity of tasks competing for your attention. Yet multitasking can actually decrease your productivity. In this post Shives provides strategies for creating the conditions necessary for the profound focus that is also necessary for much of the work that grad students have to do.
The Compartmentalized Life by Elizabeth Dunn
When the tasks that you’re facing seem overwhelming, it can be helpful to break things down and compartmentalize them. Dunn says that, while it sometimes has a negative connotation, compartmentalization can be an effective way to “mentally isolate problems or tasks by breaking them into incremental chunks to which you can offer extreme focus.” Dunn continues that “many successful entrepreneurs and executives utilize compartmentalization but give the appearance of doing many things at once,” which can also often be a big part of being successful in graduate school.
The Myth of More Time by Amy Rubens
Is a shortage of time actually the root problem? In this post Rubens discusses how other issues, such as a lack of confidence in one’s abilities, can actually contribute to what seem to be time management challenges. As deadlines loom closer, Rubens says “work that we had been proud of, or perhaps simply satisfied with, doesn’t seem so polished any more, and we decide that all of the mistakes we recently have perceived can be fixed with more time.” While we are all limited to 24 hours per day, there are some time management challenges that are rooted more in our self-perception than they are in our finite schedules. Identifying and addressing these can be a major factor in balancing your overall workload.
Getting More Done in Less Time by Ashley Wiersma
In a similar vein, sometimes the issue is not so much the limited amount of time that one has to do something, but rather one’s limited amount of energy and attention. In this post, Wiersma offers a list of apps and tips for focusing in on the work that’s most important and eliminating the distractions that take up so much valuable time. As Weirsma reminds readers, “switching between tasks too frequently (constantly checking Facebook, Twitter, texts, and email are the usual culprits) destroys our workflow.” Utilizing tools to minimize technological and communications distractions can be a big step in being more productive and managing time more effectively.
What strategies have you developed for managing your time during the hectic portions of the semester? Share them with us in the comments below or by tweeting to us at @GradHacker.