PhD is about…time management

Time management – it has always been a big problem for me. I’ve  always wanted to do so many things, and there was never enough time for everything. They say that doing your PhD is the time when you can totally and completely devote yourself to the study of one particular area becoming  a real expert in the field. I wonder how many PhD students actually devote 100% of their time to their research project. It is certainly not my case.

I have recently drawn a map of all the activities I am currently involved in (apart 35 hours of my PhD work). Here is the result:

  • Involved in designing workshops on intercultural communication for GCU students. It is a joint project between the Graduate School, Organisational Development Department and Business School of the University.
  • I am currently a Research Student Convenor, and represent research students’ views at the Graduate School Board.
  • Helping Graduate School to redesign their website and improve the communication with research students and staff.
  • I am the president of the Research Students Society which is aimed at creating a vibrant research community with lots of social  events
  • Volunteering for the GCU student association I am involved in the project of setting up a Postgraduate Students Committee at the university
  • I am coordinating the Scottish Researcher Career Coordination Forum which involves reps from the Scottish Universities, Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council who try to identify ways in which these bodies could work together to support the career development of researchers within Scotland.
  • I  try to attend lots of training and development activities including conferences, workshops and networking events.
  • And also I am guilty with spending some of my time on sleep and meals (perhaps I should cut down on this 🙂
  • Forgot to mention… wasting my time on Twitter, Facebook etc…

I am absolutely enjoying all of these things but there are certainly several major problems in my approach to time management:

  • No focus, try to do too many activities with success in most of them apart from my PhD project
  • Can’t set the priorities. I spend 70% of my time on other ‘useful’ activities, and 30% on my PhD
  • Easily distracted from work
  • Can’t say NO when people ask for help
  • Can’t stick to the plan. E-diaries, reminders don’t help
  • Can’t keep promises to myself, and it’s getting worse since I can’t keep promises to my supervisors either
  • Leave everything till the last minute, and then driven by stress and pressure trying to finish it off on time.

On a more positive note, I believe that I do many things that contribute to the development of my employability skills. I have learnt so much within the past 8 months. But at the end of the day I will probably need a title Dr to be successfully employed))) So trying to work towards it slowly but surely?:)

What is your approach to successful  time management? Any useful advice to share?

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About elenaphd

I am a PhD fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland. In my research project I am looking at employability of social science doctoral researchers.
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7 Responses to PhD is about…time management

  1. Vladimir Kiselev says:

    Elena, unfortunately you live on a different planet. Useful advices from Earth don’t work there 🙂

  2. Jorge Azorín says:

    Great post Elena. I finished my PhD but I have the same problems. Kisses.

  3. Vicky says:

    Hi Elena,
    A bit late on the game for this – having done my Masters in a less net-intensive age (2007-8, where I had no net access at home and wasn’t yet into Twitter or FB), I’m finding it a struggle in my PhD to avoid the net-time sink (esp as a lot of my research is via online search). I’ve just been told about Freedom, an app that blocks the net for an allotted amount of time, and Anti-social for just social networking sites, and am planning on getting them to force myself off the net when really necessary!

  4. elenaphd says:

    Hi, Vicky!
    Having the same problems here:) I’ve developed a rule for myself which I am TRYING to follow. When I do my PhD writing, I turn the internet off so that there is no temptation to check my emails quicky:) And I allow myself to distract and use Twitter/Facebook when I work on less brain-intensive tasks like emailing, searching articles or even transcribing interviews. Works for me…not always though:) Should check Freedom and Anti-social too:)

  5. adilah says:

    hi elena…i am adi. from japan. love your blog. a lot of tips. i think Facebook and youtube waste a lot of my time.. omg!!!.. help! i’m still in my first year. in fact, just started phd two months ago. here, phd is done in 3 years.solid first 2 years for research and has to attend few classes. any ideas to make sure i’m on the right track?ngeeee ….~thanks.. arigatou gozaimasu

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