Time Management Strategies for Graduate Students

College Degree Finder

Graduate study is more rigorous than undergraduate study. Graduate students often struggle balancing study, research, and social activities. To prioritize tasks as a graduate student, improve time management by planning daily activities. To effectively do this, you must differentiate important tasks from less important ones and determine which tasks require the most attention.

Employ Multiple To-Do Lists
Instead of creating generalized plans, create daily individualized plans. Doing this will enable you to prioritize tasks. Also, separate to-do lists by creating separate lists for grocery shopping, household tasks, and social activities.

Break Larger Tasks Down Into Smaller, More Maneagle Tasks
Breakup large tasks into chucks to make daily progress. Also, you will not feel as overwhelmed since you will have a plan of action. For example, instead of planning to begin dissertation research, plan to read specific articles or scientific studies. Once you’ve completed this task, move onto another manageable one. Identify what’s manageable by determining whether tasks can be completed in a specified period of time. Rely on these tips to break large research projects into manageable tasks:

  • Conduct a web search to brainstorm potential topics
  • When reading textbooks, jot down topic and research ideas
  • Discuss research ideas with teachers
  • Select multiple topics so you don’t limit yourself
  • Select a topic

Prioritize Your tasks according to their importance
It’s not uncommon to overschedule daily tasks. When this happens, prioritize tasks. Determine what must be completed immediately and make plans to finish other tasks later. Graduate students often make the mistake of scheduling too much in small timeframes.

Prioritize school assignments
If you’re required to write weekly summaries of required readings and a research paper is due by the end of the semester, limit time spent working on weekly summaries since they account for a smaller percentage of your final grade than the research paper. Although no assignment should be neglected, it’s better to spend more time working on larger assignments than smaller ones. Learning to prioritize tasks during school is a valuable skill that will be beneficial during your professional life.

Set deadlines for Yourself
Several steps must be completed to finish large projects. Be realistic when setting deadlines by making reasonable estimates about how long it will take to complete each step. It’s not uncommon to change deadlines, so plan flexible deadlines in case you must devote more time to underestimated steps.

Be Flexible
Even the best plans can be interrupted with unexpected distractions. Create flexible daily schedules to account for them.

Go with Your Flow
Study during your mental peak. For example, if you prefer waking up early, study in the morning. If you’re a night person, study at night. Don’t tackle difficult projects when you’re mentally fatigued.

Say “No.”
Students often assume excessive workloads. This includes volunteer work, employment, and extra classes. Prioritize extra responsibilities.

Make Use of Wasted Time
Students spend hours each day on non-school related tasks. This includes waiting for appointments, eating, and exercising. When you’re running on the treadmill or waiting for an appointment, review notes and class readings. This time can also be spent organizing schedules and making future plans. Every minute counts, so look for opportunities to maximize efficiency during the day.

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