Time management is a critical aspect of all areas of life. This is especially true in graduate school, when students are working on completing classes and dissertations, often working part-time or full-time jobs, and often caring for and spending time with families. The level of work that is required of graduate school students can easily throw off any semblance of work-life balance they may have.
The most important things about time management are to find something that works for you, have a plan and stick to it, and schedule time for breaks. Time management is not a one size fits all situation, so while it is great to receive recommendations from others, remember that not everything will work well for you. A lot of times, time management is a trial-and-error process of finding the right tools and plans to fit your personality, strengths and weaknesses, and needs. Then, once you find something that works for you, it is important to stick to that. If keeping a checklist of all the tasks you must do each day is what works for you, make sure you are doing that every single day. Time management is not a skill, it is a habit. It will take a lot of effort to build that habit in the beginning, but it will get easier over time.
Finally, do not let yourself skimp on, or forget about, your mental health. It is critical that you treat time for yourself with equal importance as time spent at work, or caring for your family, or working on your dissertation. I know it may seem like relaxation and fun is secondary to work and responsibilities, but it should not be. The difficulty with stress and work-life balance is that the more stress and responsibilities you have, the poorer your ability to respond to them will be. To maintain your mental and physical health during graduate school, you must recognize and act on the importance balance, meaning work and relaxation. For other tips and tricks of time management, be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2!
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