Grad School Advice

Be a Planner

Graduate students are always focused on time. When are things due? What meetings do I have today? Do I have time to eat and shower? Can I take an extra job researching or teaching? How many hours do I actually have to invest in everything that I need to do?

20170822_131025The answer is there is simply never enough hours in every day to accomplish all that we have to do. The goal, however, is to prioritize the work that has to get done. Organization is key to maintaining a healthy work, student, and home life. So the question then becomes how do I stay organized?

I’m old school. I love to have a paper calendar. I love color coding it. Each color represents a class or some other distinct type of activity. I keep big tasks on the calendar, such as due dates, meetings, etc.. I actually schedule in shopping time each week as well. Details matter. To go along with that, I keep a running shopping list. Each day, I also have a list of tasks to make those big calendar events happen. Like today, I had a meeting at 9am. Afterward, I went shopping. Then, I came home and worked on my lesson plan for tomorrow’s class. Planned part of Friday’s class. Read. Made time to work on this blog post. After this, I will read some more. Then, it’ll be supper and off to class at 5:50-9. I’ll come home, watch some shows, and drift off to sleep. I already know what tomorrow will look like. I won’t bore you with all the details.

There are times where I don’t know what I need to get done, or I have too much to accomplish in one sitting. But staying organized like this minimizes the amount of time casualties in my day to day life. Grad school is stressful enough without adding a meandering life to it. Most days, even with my schedule, I feel like I’m on a bike headed down a slope in the Donner Pass.

This schedule does allow me to have free time, though, and I avoid the stresses of working on projects last minute. I plan it out so that I can have more free time. To boil all of this down into one nugget:

Stay on top of things! Plan, plan, and plan!

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