Since choosing to work smart rather than hard, even though it upsets some people when I stick to my schedule, life has become more organized and less chaotic. One fascinating discovery I’ve made is that I can often predict what will happen, what I need to do, or where I’ll go, right down to the required resources.
I am a Master’s student at a Nigerian Federal Government University, and since it was my first time, everything has been stressful and frustrating. Even though I am someone who can come out on top when I meet a stressful situation, everything in that school seemed designed to frustrate me. If not for that, I would have been done with school and started working a full-time paying job two years ago.
However, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, I found myself in a challenging situation. Graduate school is known for its demanding nature, cost, and complexity. Balancing classes, research, assignments, and the thesis makes effective time management essential for success.
For this reason, I wrote this post to discuss how you can manage your time as a graduate student. By taking the time to prioritize and organize your tasks, you can give yourself the best chance of staying on track during the academic session. You can also work a full-time job and build a business that you love. Being able to do most of what you want will help reduce your stress levels and provide a sense of accomplishment, even when school work isn’t bringing a smile to your face.”
Enough about random thoughts, Nafisa!! Here are some of the tips I’ve been utilizing for the past 36 months, with mostly positive results.
Keep a Time Log
A time log is a technique that involves tracking how you spend your time throughout the day. It might sound tedious, but it helps you to understand how you currently use your time and identify time wasters.
It’s typically the initial step in time management, and integrating it into your daily routine can be a game-changer for effective time management. Think of it as a small investment that yields significant rewards in terms of productivity, focus, and achieving your goals. Give it a try and watch as you take control of your time and unlock your full potential.
Keeping a time log is relatively simple. Here’s a basic guide to get you started:
- Choose a Medium: You can use a physical notebook, a digital spreadsheet, or even time-tracking apps to record your activities.
- Set Intervals: Decide on the time intervals you’ll use for recording. Common choices include 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1-hour intervals.
- Record Everything: Throughout the day, jot down what you’re doing during each interval. Be honest and precise.
- Analyze and Adjust: At the end of the day or week, review your time log. Identify areas where you can improve your time management and make necessary adjustments to your schedule.
Create a Time Management Schedule
This will be a structured plan that outlines how you intend to allocate your time throughout your program. You can do this daily, weekly, or monthly as it will help you be organized and manage your tasks, responsibilities, and activities efficiently to achieve your goals, meet deadlines, maintain a balanced lifestyle, focus, and ultimately achieve success.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” Charles Brixton
Time management schedules can be created using various tools, such as physical planners, digital calendar apps, spreadsheets, or specialized time management software. The specific format and level of detail in a schedule can vary depending on personal preferences and needs.
Starting and maintaining a time schedule can be very simple or complex depending on your personality, Here’s a basic guide to get you started:
- Start with a Clear Vision: You need to define your short-term and long-term goals. What do you want to achieve in the coming weeks, months, and years?
- Choose a Medium: You can use a physical planner, a spreadsheet, or even time management apps to create your schedule.
- Identify Your Priorities: Determine your most important tasks for each day. These are the tasks that contribute significantly to your goals.
- Allocate Time Blocks: Divide your day into time blocks, and allocate specific blocks for tasks, starting with your top priorities while being realistic about how much time each task will take.
- Incorporate Breaks: Include short breaks between tasks or time blocks. These breaks allow you to recharge, maintain focus, and prevent burnout.
- Review and Adjust: Regularly review your schedule to assess whether you’re meeting your goals and maintaining balance. Adjust your schedule as needed to accommodate changes in priorities or unexpected events.
Read on The Blog: How To Bounce Back From Job Rejection And Build Confidence
Learn To Outsource Your Task
Here, you ask someone else to perform a specific task for you rather than doing it yourself. Learning to outsource tasks strategically can free up valuable time, allowing you to focus on your most important academic work, business, and personal priorities.
This skill not only enhances your time management but also teaches you to collaborate, delegate, and make the most of the resources available to you. As a graduate student, mastering the art of outsourcing can be a game-changer in your journey, leading to greater efficiency and, ultimately, academic success.
Learning not to do it all and understanding that it is okay to outsource some tasks, not because you are lazy but because your time is valuable, is always something I remind myself when I start feeling overwhelmed.
Learn to say NO
Graduate school is a demanding phase of life, filled with academic responsibilities, research, and personal growth. It’s also a time when learning to decline commitments or requests can free up your time and allow you to focus on what truly matters in your graduate journey.
Saying ‘no’ becomes easier when you have a clear understanding of your priorities and goals as a graduate student. Your primary focus should be on your academic coursework, research, and personal development. Anything that doesn’t align with these core objectives may need to be reconsidered.
Learn to establish boundaries with your time and yourself. Don’t be a people-pleaser to anyone because the more you agree to do things for other people, the less time you’ll have for yourself. However, don’t let that stop you from giving back to society; just make sure that you are not spreading yourself too thin
Make Morning Your Best Friend
Make your morning your best friend because it’s an excellent time to get things done when you have more energy and fewer distractions. Being productive in the morning sets a positive tone for the rest of your day, making it one of your most valuable assets in the pursuit of productivity and personal growth.
Here’s a little secret I want to share with you: My morning actually starts at 2 a.m. and goes until 8 a.m. For this reason, I make sure to complete all the important tasks before 8 a.m. I then block out 10 am to 2 pm for school work, as fortunately, that doesn’t require 100% of my brainpower.
Know the Transport and Market Route
As a graduate student, your time is a valuable resource, and while you might wonder what bus stops and markets have to do with time management, understanding their locations and schedules can be a game-changer in your graduate journey. Knowing this allows you to streamline your daily activities, reduce stress, and make the most of your time
Remember, it’s not about working harder but working smarter. By making your mornings productive, embracing time management tools like keeping a time log, creating schedules, and even knowing the ins and outs of local transportation and markets, you can unlock your full potential as a graduate student with a full-time job and business.
Want to find out more in a tiny bit of my thoughts, follow Novellisteer on Twitter
- What’s your favourite time management tip from the article, and how do you plan to implement it in your life?
- Have you faced any unique time management challenges as a student? If so, how do you handle them?
- How do you balance your academic responsibilities with your personal life and hobbies?