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This expert advice comes from Janet Padgett, Ph.D., M.Ac.

When you are busy with graduate studies, you need to manage your time wisely in order to accomplish all that you need to do, along with all that you want to do. You may find it helpful to categorized and make time estimates for the various tasks in your life. Doing so will help you prioritize these tasks.

First categorize your tasks into groups such as:

  • Required activities of daily living, for example, time to sleep, eat, and assist your family
  • Required activities of graduate work, for example, classes, research, and teaching
  • Desired activities of daily living, for example, exercise, hobbies, and socializing
  • Desired activities of graduate work, for example, additional reading or networking

Declaring a task to be required or desired is the first step to prioritizing it. Next, estimate the time needed to complete these tasks. For some tasks, you might have a definitive time frame, such as a class period. For other tasks you might assign a range of times, for instance, what is the minimum amount of sleep that you need to function, versus how much sleep do you need to perform at your peak. To make it easier to see how your time fits together, put your tasks into a table. You can consider any time scale -- hourly, weekly, monthly, or beyond. Start with those tasks that you consider to be required, and then you can fill in the empty time slots with your desired activities. If you run out of time before you run out of activities, you need to reassess your priorities and down-grade or drop some tasks. You can use a similar technique of prioritizing and setting time frames to help you organize and complete individual tasks.

Time management is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, you want all the pieces to fit comfortably together. 


About the author: Janet received a doctorate in biophysics at John Hopkins University, a B.S. in Physics at the University of Virginia, and worked for 15 years as a Life Sciences Editor at Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. She currently teaches at the Tia Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts.