Time management: It’s important to have a plan.

Those who have followed this blog for a while will know that I am now studying full time, with a little part time work and my family to organise. As I get busier I find that I am seeking out more blogs to see how other Mum’s (and some Dad’s) manage their time to effectively juggle their lives. Seeking balance is the main theme of these blogs, and sometimes they are successful and sometimes not. I like the honesty in many blogs, and am constantly reminded that we all need to reassess situations when things aren’t working. This term (Ok 2 weeks in) I think my ‘schedule’ is working well…here is why I think it is (and please remember I had a pretty rough term 1, it worked in some ways and other things didn’t)…

I have a teaching background and have learned to work in 45 minute blocks for planning, teaching and correction. While my time at the moment isn’t quite as structured, I do think of my day in blocks of time. Everyday I try to balance my time spent studying, working and ‘playing’.  I think it is quite important to set achievable goals for each day/week, and have found that by chipping away at my goals over the last few months, I have actually completed many tasks before the dates they were due and there has been no ‘mad rush’ to finish things.  There have been other things that have taken longer than I expected too, but it hasn’t been stressful to complete them and because of the way I have ‘chipped away’ I have known well in advance that the timeline I had set was unrealistic, and so was able to adapt this.

I am also using (and advocating) technology to help me use time effectively and reduce double handling of so many things. For example:

  • Party invitations my LT brings home get photographed and put straight onto Evernote, I check the date with my synced Google calendar on my phone and respond as soon as I can whether we can make it so it’s doesn’t get overlooked later in the week when I am working.
  • I am learning to use highlighting on my email and folders and documents I am working with. The colours I use helps me quickly pick up from where I left a project the day or week before. So a document in progress will be green (going), when a document is complete I change it’s highlight colour to orange (nearly done) and when I have printed/emailed/actioned it I change the colour to red (stop work).  This has really helped with a multitude of papers I have been reading and reviewing. I also send a progress copy and complete copy to Evernote for backup, in case my laptop plays up. (Yay Cloud!)

I have planned out a weekly schedule with all the “must-do’s” in it, and have some windows of time to catch up with a friend here and there. I find I work better with this written plan, and think that I need this visual to make sure I do use my time the best I can.

A while ago I came across this blog, how one man organises his ‘space’ to improve productivity. He outlines things like cutting down on time to ‘set up’ for the task, prioritising tasks and also having an idea of things you can do, even if you don’t really feel like it:

How Can I Increase My Productivity On My Side Projects At The End Of The Day When I’m Tired From Work? – Forbes.

Do you have hints/tips on how you maximise the use of your time? Please feel free to share in the comments here, or on the facebook page.

Until next week…

Fiona T

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Paperless Progess

This week has been school holidays, so LT has been home and we have been galivanting and visiting friends. I have, however, been trying to get some articles read in the evenings, and have reduced my Facebook time considerably (YAY)…

In my paperless efforts I have downloaded quite a few articles to read around my topic and methodology. These are sitting as PDF files in a folder called ‘papers to read’ on my laptop desktop. In an effort to be organised, I have even named them with their correct titles when they were downloaded. Many I have skimmed but have made great efforts this week to focus closely (attend) to the articles and make notes and highlight for quotes etc. I have found all of this can be done on the PDF file itself, there is an annotate option. You can simply highlight, or select a comment box or even a text box. This will then save for future review. I have resisted printing them off 🙂

My next step in my master plan was foiled. Unfortunately Googledocs translates everything uploaded into it’s own ‘format’, and while the PDF itself is now on my googledocs page, my comments are not. It did transfer the highlighting so it will be a bit of a back up, but not quite as complete as I had hoped. I wonder if Evernote may be a better holding point for my read articles? I will have to play with Evernote one evening and see how it will ‘stack up’ with my increasing demands. I also want to look at some other blogs from PhD people, written as they completed their study and see what I can learn about the road ahead…forewarned is forearmed 🙂

Until next week, happy reading!

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