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Time Management Tactics for Academics

Strategy: Make a plan and prioritize

❶Sometimes decluttering can be an unselfish way to show love to those who will have to clean up after you.

Grad school survival advice from Nick Feamster and Alex Gray

2) Create a life schedule
Take Control of Your Time
Time Management Skills

If you are able to manage your time, your day-to-day life will be much more easy. Building a schedule helps you to plan your daily activities. Steps to achieve efficient time management are described to help you affect the control of your time.

Knowing what you have to do and where you have to be in advance can make the day less stressful and more productive. To get more done in less time, that is the secret of successful people. We present these three rules from Donald Wetmore to increase your productivity. First, set aside a time each morning to make a list of all the items you want to accomplish that day. As you write these items down you will begin to get a clearer picture of what you need to work on and begin to start scheduling the time necessary to complete them.

Next you prioritize your items. Choose the most important item and number this one. Choose the second most important item and label it two, and so on. Complete your first item, in spite of interruptions throughout the day. Then go on to the next item. This way you will always complete the most important item every day. When we prioritize we focus on the most important items instead of skipping around and doing the least important, therefore, easier ones.

Then you follow these steps every day. As you create a new to-do list everyday, you re-prioritize items from the day before. You will feel in control of your day and improve your productivity. If you have an organized plan for a project, you can manage your time wisely. Start by writing down all your projects in any order on a piece of paper. It is important to list as many of your projects as you can think of so you can best apply a priority list. After your list is compiled, group all similar tasks together.

It is important to prioritize the tasks in a logical sequence. This step is very critical in time management because if you start to work on a task, but you need other information, you will have to stop what you are working on and complete the other task first.

This will slow down the process and waste time. A priority list will allow you to work on the projects in the most logical order, saving the maximum amount of time. It is very important to set goals that are achievable. Many times, goals are set too high on initial projects, and after failing to achieve them it is hard to motivate yourself and those around you.

When the goals are set at proper stages of a project and they are achieved, everyone involved feels good about his or her involvement. Goals in some cases create an adrenalin boost to a project with a feeling of accomplishment. The opposite is true if the goals are set too aggressively and are not met. People involved in the project may tend to give up on tasks, feeling they are already failing or are going to fail.

Goals should be one of the last steps of a project so they can be well thought out. After gathering all the information available and input from everyone involved, goals can be set at realistic levels.

Be firm with yourself and make the commitment of blocking some time to complete your studies. Control your distractions by limiting their effect on you. If you need to be alone to focus on your studies then close the door to keep people from interrupting you.

If you are interrupted, give the person a time limit; of course you would want to keep this time limit to yourself as you do not want to alienate your family or your co-workers. Use your voice-mail to take your calls, and do not check your e-mails until your studies are done.

If you prefer the hustle and bustle of a busy environment then choose a more active setting. You can get together with other students and study.

Carter, Bishop, and Kravits suggests that you need to choose the environment that will make the most of your abilities to study. It is just as important to organize others that will affect the project as it is to be organized yourself.

Give others as much notice as possible with what your needs are with the project, and set up times with them to update you on their progress. In doing so, you will be able to monitor their progress so they do not affect your time line.

Make sure they are very clear on every detail of each step, as well as the importance of being on schedule. Critical steps may require a backup plan to ensure the tasks will be completed in an organized and timely manner. Talk through the expectations to clear up any issues prior to moving on to your next task. Remember that if they are not clear on what is required, you have to waste more time revisiting the issues left unattended.

In our busy life other issues come up and we have to deal with them first. When an unexpected event comes up and we have to cancel a previous commitment, we now have to find time to reschedule. Many times when something like this comes up, it is hard to find the time to reschedule.

If you have a schedule of your day-to-day activities, you should always have a time open in case you have to reschedule an appointment. This also gives you time to yourself when that time you set aside is not used. Putting time aside for various events that might occur can take some stress off of you too. You would not have to stress because you would have the time there already. Without putting aside some free time, people tend to stress out because they do not know when they would be able to fit things in.

Being able to have time management skills lets you have an understanding of time, and how to use it wisely. In order to organize your time, you must set goals in your life. Goals are certain values that you have. Values are principles or qualities that someone considers important. For example, your religious beliefs, friends you have, relatives, authority figures, and the media. It can be tempting to pack meetings back-to-back, one after another on hourly boundaries.

This is, in my opinion, an awful way to schedule time. Instead, I try to use time buffers to make better use of my time:. From a personal perspective, having a time buffer is also a good idea: Creating time bounds is perhaps one of the most important time management tasks that an academic can learn.

The academic lifestyle can go unbounded. It is always possible to write another paper, perfect the lecture notes further, write another proposal, and so forth.

The sky is the limit, and the sky is boundless. It can be tempting to continue to say yes, to keep working after diminishing returns have set in, and so forth. It is critical to set bounds.

Here are some tactics that I use for setting bounds:. Establish times for specific activities, and be ruthless about enforcing the barriers between those activities. However, I find that many of the tactics above are specifically useful for academics or those who work in environments where time is unstructured and working hours can potentially go unbounded.

Hopefully some of the tactics in this point will save you some time in the future! August 31, Author: Nick Feamster Filed under: Most tasks do not take an hour, and often significant progress can be made in a very small amount of time. When you find that you have a bit of time e. Note that bit tasks need not be insignificant: You can take a larger task and divide it into bits.

These bit tasks are less daunting thus, easier to get started on , and you can do them in the little bits of found time throughout the day. Before taking a break, use a time bit to start a new task. One of the most difficult aspects of getting things done is getting started. Therefore, I try not to align my tasks on discrete boundaries like hours. Rather, I use my time bits to start a new significant task. You have ten minutes before your next meeting.

You could take a break, talk to your colleague, get a coffee, etc. When you come back later e. I find that using time bits to make a concrete however small start on a larger task almost eliminates the cost of context switching later.

With this in mind, I apply two specific tactics: Always have a goal, and spend your time with that goal in mind. You need long-term goals and short-term goals. For example, a long-term goal might be to finish a conference paper, achieve a promotion, or train for a marathon. A short-term goal e. Have a goal and be purposeful about how you spend time in pursuit of that goal.

When it comes to meetings, demand an agenda. This tactic is almost the same as having a purpose, but it is particularly useful for graduate students and faculty members. I now refuse to attend meetings for which there is no set agenda in advance.

An agenda gives clarity of purpose to a meeting, and it is also a plan for how the time will be spent. It makes the need for the meeting clear, it allows for immediate and efficient use of meeting time, and—most importantly—it makes it clear when the meeting is over. Once the agenda is complete, the meeting is over. Without an agenda, a meeting can drag on to fill the time allotted; this steals time away from your opportunity to accomplish tasks with time bits.

Use agendas to make efficient use of meeting time. Instead, I try to use time buffers to make better use of my time: Create time buffers in between scheduled activities. If you think a meeting will take 20 minutes, schedule If you think an activity will require 60 minutes, schedule This rule applies to pretty much everything: We can sometimes have a tendency to pack engagements tightly, but this often results in stress, lateness, and frantic thought and action.

There may be some apprehension about scheduling time buffers: Applying the time bits strategy above can make these extra found times in the time buffers incredibly useful for accomplishing important tasks. If you have time buffers in between activities, you can actually be early to your next activity, rather than frantically running from one thing to the next.

This ensures that you are composed and focused for your next activity, rather than frazzled and behind.

Here are some tactics that I use for setting bounds: Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the timely. I encounter this problem regularly and I am guilty of violating this principle myself. An example where this creeps up in academic life is paper reviewing. But, at some point you hit diminishing returns.

I have been guilty of this myself. Plus, being perfect is not attainable, but being timely is. Sometimes deadlines are explicit e. If you are working on a task that does not have a bound e. Declare a date or time by which you will be done and stick to it. This will ensure that you do not over-optimize. There is a definitely phenomenon in research. Setting deadlines will help you ensure that you are not stuck in the realm of diminishing returns. Set deadlines and bounds on the lengths of meetings, how much time you will spend on an email thread, etc.

Do not be afraid to declare victory once the time is up. Many interrupt-driven activities steal our time in fits and spurts. Email is perhaps the most notorious of these thieves. Of course, sometimes an email thread is useful: But, this is the exception. Most of the time, replying to email is a Sisyphean task that simply generates more email. Be particularly wary of email threads without a clear purpose, and look out for email threads that will resolve themselves without your involvement.

I clear these threads from my deck with one stroke of the delete key! I also try to identify whether email is the most efficient mode for resolving the problem. Just because someone contacts you by email does not mean you have to reply, and just because someone contacts you by email does not mean you need to reply by email. For example, sometimes a phone call, IM, or in-person chat is faster and more effective. Also, I recommend only replying to email at certain times e.

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Research Report. ETS RR– Examining the Efficacy of a Time Management Intervention for High School Students. Jeremy Burrus Teresa Jackson. Steven Holtzman.

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Purpose – The purpose of this article is to provide an overview for those interested in the current state-of-the-art in time management research. Design/methodology/approach – This review includes 32 empirical studies on time .

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Time Management Concepts Research on the effective use of time has generated several time management terms. The most common term is time-on-task, or engaged time. Time management is the ability to plan and control how you spend the hours in your day to effectively accomplish your goals. Poor time management can be related to procrastination as well as.

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Proper time management is key to success in college. You need to manage time effectively if you‟re going to be successful. The purpose of this study aimed to assess the effectiveness of time management training on academic time management of this experimental research, 70 students from university of Mohaghegh . 1 Research on student time management Contexts for research Research into student time management for the LearnHigher CETL has been carried out by members of.