Managing your time in graduate school comes with its own set of challenges. You may find yourself constantly juggling work, school, family, and social life. How you manage your time will affect how successful you are in your graduate studies so manage it wisely by avoiding these top grad school time wasters:
It is easy to say “yes” to everything, but having too many commitments can become a huge stress inducer and time waster. Your time is limited and valuable, so it is important to spend it wisely. This is your chance to think about what activities serve you and your goals. Staying involved with unproductive study groups or participating in clubs that do not interest you is a waste of your time. Instead, you should be highly disciplined around your own schedule. Your routine should include activities necessary for your consistent physical and mental well-being. Actions like eating, sleeping, and exercising will become “optional” if you start prioritizing academic or professional responsibilities over them. Learn to define boundaries and enforce them, both against yourself and against others.
School work is not the only thing you have to factor into your schedule. Although staying up late or pulling all-nighters may seem like a good idea when trying to complete assignments or meet deadlines, running on empty can cost you in the long run. Working while sleep-deprived is a time waster not only because it is much harder to concentrate while tired but also because you will make costly mistakes that you need to revisit later and correct. Instead of working on empty, take time to rest and recharge so you can tackle tasks with a clear and focused mind. Taking care of yourself is necessary to producing quality work. Spending 30 minutes on a walk around campus can save you 4 hours of code debugging later.
It is hard to hold yourself accountable when you are unorganized. Losing work or forgetting obligations means you have to play catch up instead of moving on to another task. Misplacing notes or missing a meeting is stressful, and will eventually lead to more time spent cleaning up your mess. Instead of wasting time scrambling to find misplaced information, learn productivity software and rely on technology to track, resolve, and automate your obligations. Even something as simple as setting up email filtering rules and recurring calendar reminders can significantly reduce stress in the long run. Be mindful of designated times for work and play. A good place to start is managing your energy. Ask yourself when you are most productive. Are you a morning or night person? Determining what times of the day you are at your best will help you decide times for certain activities like writing research papers and doing homework.
We have all been there. Paper due next month. We wait until the week or the day before to start the research because we are busy spending hours upon hours goofing with friends, watching youtube videos, or playing video games. As the deadlines near, we find ourselves searching frantically through endless amounts of documents looking for any information that will actually be helpful to our paper. If you find yourself in this situation, consider using a reference manager to consolidate and accelerate your research.
Petal is an easy-to-use reference manager to help you with your last minute deadlines. It is completely free to use, and no download is required. The platform allows you to log and share insights on research papers, academic literature, business reports, or any digital resource with your colleagues or advisor. You can even search for references and cite your work automatically using Petal’s free citation generator add-ins. Use Petal wherever you are, on any device.
Working harder without thinking or planning will only waste your time. Ask those around you for advice on tips and tricks and other relevant lifehacks. Many time-saving resources are specific to your school, so be sure to check out your institution’s student resources and libraries.