Manage Your Time

Being a successful graduate student means balancing your needs, obligations, and expectations, and it requires conscious and persistent effort. This may mean focusing more on research or course work during peak times, or needing to focus on job applications for the short-term so you keep your long-term goals in sight.


  • Use a calendar to manage school, family, and social responsibilities. Don’t try to commit your calendar to memory. Yes, you're smart, and you could probably do it, but it requires time and energy that can be put to better use.
  • Schedule your time for studying AND time for relaxing. Know what you need for optimum performance, and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Work with your natural rhythm. Everyone has personal periods of peak productivity. If you're a morning person, plan to tackle your most difficult tasks before lunch. If you're a night owl, don't study or work on complicated projects until late afternoon or evening.

Managing Specific Tasks

  • In conjunction with your calendar, keep a "To-Do" list to keep track of tasks not associated with a specific date. Include papers to read, the next steps for your research, or errands to run. When you have free time, you’ll be able to look at your list for the next item. It's very satisfying to cross items off your list!
  • Prioritizing your effort effectively means learning the practical difference between “important” and “urgent.” Of course, important tasks must be completed, but urgent tasks must be completed in the very near future. Some important things can be accomplished tomorrow, later this week, or next week. Of course you can’t put off important, non-urgent tasks indefinitely.
  • Don’t multitask. Studies show that multitasking keeps you from focusing on one task long enough to complete it—to the detriment of all the tasks. [1] Hamilton, John. Think you’re Multitasking? Think Again. October 02, 2008. story