All 3 entries tagged Time Management

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February 20, 2013

Part–time – if only!

Am I really halfway through my first year as a PhD Researcher? I don’t feel like I’ve achieved a great deal yet but then I must remember that I’m not on the same timeline as the rest of my PhD colleagues.

So how does it work being a part-timer? I’m not sure I fully considered what it would be like trying to do a part-time PhD at Warwick, when I live in South Manchester, and am a co-director of a business that means working all over the UK. I managed to complete a Masters whilst working full-time so what’s the difference? Well now I know, it’s like comparing apples with oranges!

Balancing act

After the first term of attending seminars, skills training sessions, research methods group sessions, talks, conferences and tutorials, I wasn’t getting much time to really get stuck into the research, let alone kicking off the writing. So in discussion with my business partner, who also happens to be my twin brother, from the start of 2013 I decided to allocate one day in the working week to devote to my PhD, as well as trying to grab time at the weekend and the odd evening. In doing so it has given me much needed focus but has also meant there have been some weeks when I’ve spent every evening and weekend catching up with my paid work, but that’s the joy of being self employed…

I deliberately chose to do my PhD as a follow-on from the work I’d done for my Masters dissertation, which in hindsight was clearly a smart move, as I would definitely have struggled with a new topic. Many friends and colleagues assume that I’m doing a PhD directly related to my work or to further my career, when in fact it’s for purely selfish reasons – I just love film! It’s been my passion since I was a kid, and that’s a long time ago, and I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to indulge that passion.

In two minds

I know that trying to achieve a work-research-life balance may never quite be realistic, particularly when work or PhD deadlines are looming. I’d never really achieved the work-life balance before starting my Masters or PhD. I’m lucky that my chosen professional work is in the arts, heritage and tourism sectors so no two days are ever the same, but it does often mean that my social life is spent going to the theatre, museums, galleries etc alongside colleagues – otherwise commonly known as ‘networking’. It can therefore be difficult to switch off from my busy work schedule, multiple paying clients and constantly delivering marketing and communications activity, and switch into a quieter reflective mode, focusing on reading and writing about the same subject.

I now realise that I need to use the skills I’ve developed in my work life and adapt them to my research – setting deadlines, being task oriented, organised and multi-tasking, skim-reading, scan-reading and writing – but that will be the topic for another blog post...

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only mature part-time PhD researcher at Warwick as there aren’t any others in my department – Film and TV - but if there are any others out there, what’s your experience?

October 29, 2012

Time Management Strategies – by Ceren

Time-management is a vital skill, one that will be necessary in your chosen career as well as in university. People have different time clocks and what works for one student might not work for you. The following are some time-management strategies that you may want to incorporate into your time-management routine. Test them out to see what works and what does not work for you. It might be a good idea to start by monitoring and reflecting on how you currently use your time.

First, Some Basic Strategies

Prioritise! You probably have a lot of things to do, so assess how important and how urgent the tasks are; then make sure high priority tasks get done first and are not put off on a regular basis. Avoid time wasters!

Be specific! Make the task as specific as possible - we tend to follow through then, especially if we write it down. For example, instead of telling yourself “I will do some statistics this week,” try “I will do 3 descriptive statistics problems Tuesday at 7pm”

Small bite-size pieces! It is easy to feel overwhelmed, so try breaking tasks down into smaller sub-tasks. Once you have started it is easier to keep going.

Use all available time! This is an especially good strategy if you are pressed for time. You do not necessarily need a block of time in order to study. There are lots of study tasks that can be accomplished in short periods, such as reviewing main points of a reading or a lecture.

Structure the environment! Find a place, preferably one you can use regularly and with limited distractions. Make sure you have all the essentials so you have no excuses.

Establish a routine! We are creatures of habit. If you always study at a certain time or day then it will be easier to get into concentration mode. Also, it is better to study briefly and regularly

Use time management and scheduling tools

Scheduling Tools and Tips

Create a master schedule that indicates on a term or year basis when holidays, exams, reports, essays etc. are due. Post it in a prominent spot!

Create a weekly schedule.

At a regular time, e.g. Sunday evening, plan your week taking into account your master schedule and your study goals for that week

Mark out commitments such as classes, labs, work, sport, meals, etc.

Make a list of your study tasks- be specific and prioritise.

Schedule into available time slots these study tasks.

Consider the purpose of the study task - if it is working on an essay, more time will be needed therefore schedule a block of time. If the purpose is for review, say to scan a text then make use of the odd half hours available.

Schedule tasks that may require maximum concentration during your “peak” or periods of maximum alertness – this varies from person to person.

Allot times for relaxation, exercise, etc. and be sure to include a “Cease study” time that allows time to unwind before sleep (and it gives you something to look forward to!).

Monitor and Evaluate: review what has been accomplished at the end of a day and decide if the schedule needs to be changed the next day.

Some students work better off a detailed daily To Do List. Again, at a regular time (for example last thing at night or first thing in the morning) plan your day taking into account your master schedule and the study goals for the week.

When you have finished a study task, cross it off your timetable or list.

Avoid too much detail- a schedule has to remain flexible or it becomes a dinosaur! Everyone has different needs; perhaps start with just organising study tasks for certain classes or only list your priorities.

Schedule in rewards, for example your favourite TV programme after doing a task you were dreading.

time management diagram

To learn more please check out this blog post and make comments or ask questions if you need any advice!

January 18, 2012

The art of managing time: By Sruti

Time waits for none and wasted time never returns. Time management is the stepping stone for the success and better it is managed, easier it is for you to reach your goal.

A properly managed time reduces stress and improves productivity. It brings one kind of mental peace and satisfaction if you are able to finish everything that you have planned to do in a day. To me, "A richest person is one, who is happy with his/her daily work."

Dear friends, lets take a short while to think about our most prioritised job at this moment - and I am sure, for most of us it is to complete the PhD within the stipulated time. Now lets make a list of other things that are distracting us by stealing our valuable time. It might be prioritising immaterial issues, excessive time spent on networking sites and chatting, disorganisation, and also loss of concentration due to home sickness. Let these issues be discarded one by one until we are left with only one thing to concentrate at least for the time being to protect our valuable time. Chatting, socialising, networking, hanging outs etc., have a tremendous role to play in maximising our productivity and improving our thinking power untill they are under our control. Remember, they are harmful if we are getting controlled by them.

Delay your work, if you can. For example, suppose you have agreed to submit an assignment to your superviosr by a certain date, but in the mid way of the assignment you realise that it can be improved if few more additional days are spent on it. It is always better to do things perfectly even taking longer time, rather than making lots of repeated changes to what has been done imperfectly in haste. After all, slow but steady wins the race.

We should help those who really need it. A friend in need, is a friend indeed. Simultaneously we need to identify those people who do not put much effort but want to get their work done by you cleverly considering your time as their time. The art of managing time does include the art of saying "NO" in these cases, dear friends! Please help them to realise that self-help is the best help, because they need this help urgently!

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