Time management tips for postgraduate students
As the new semester begins, today’s contribution is by Ria Rampersad. Ria is from the Caribbean and is an alumni of the University who, through long-distance learning, has managed to gain some helpful time management skills. Now she wants to share her experience with others in the same situation:
Time – we all have the same amount of it, don’t we? And yet it seems a relative concept. It differs by person, and maybe even by situation and circumstance. As a graduate student you may feel as though you don’t have the same amount of time as, maybe, your retired grandfather, simply because there is so much to do within a finite period. I agree – I’ve been there and personally know what it’s like to juggle a full time job, studying and other life musts (family, chores, hobbies). That’s why I’ve put together a few insider tips on how to make even the most complex agenda more manageable.
The first thing to do is to prioritise. And I don’t just mean listing the broad tasks that take up the majority of your time, like studying, spending time with family or playing a sport. I mean that even within your individual modules, there will need to be tasks that you give priority to over others. For example, which of the fifty items on your reading list is most important to your understanding of the course or which will help you to excel in your coursework assessment? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to maximise the time you have on each course. You might also find that after reviewing the course outline, some topics may need more of your attention than others. Maybe you didn’t get a good grasp of something or lacked the foundation. In essence, creating priority lists as you go along will help you to see where your time needs to be directed. For this to work, however, you need to check in weekly to see what needs your attention, such as deadlines or other commitments.
Build a routine
Building a routine is also a great way to create habits, and adding time blocks to your routine can also improve how you engage with tasks. For me, weekends were the periods where I could get the most done, but if I didn’t structure my time well it could easily be eaten up by household and life responsibilities. I found that for me early morning, rather than late night, was where I was most productive, so this is when I did most of my work. I got into the habit of working almost as soon as I woke up and getting a fair amount done before 8am. You have to know what works best for you and make sure that you pencil in the times you want to dedicate to set tasks. After a few weeks the routine becomes engrained.
Over-estimate how long things take
One other point that I picked up after two years of combining work and study was that things often took a lot longer than I originally planned and so I started over-estimating rather than under-estimating the length of time it would take to complete a task, for example an essay assignment. In fact, I usually began my coursework assessment in the second week of the module which would give me enough time for reading and drafting. Also related to that point is the issue of procrastination. Yes, we all battle with it to varying extents and for those who just want to wait until they get the ‘perfect’ start or inspiring first line, the truth is that an ‘aha’ moment can come at any time, so it is essential that you just start. Whether that is by reading, writing, collecting information or just envisioning what you want as the end result – the more you get into the habit of getting things done, the more you can make it a reality.
Thank you so much, Ria, for this kind and helpful article containing some of your tips. We hope that the readers will find it helpful and beneficial!
If you too would like to contribute to this CEED GRADskills blog then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected].