Welcome back to the hustle and bustle that is graduate school. Whether you have been in school for years on end or you are just now getting back into the groove of it all, there is an art to maintaining your sanity during the process. Time management is always easier said than done, however, it can mean a world of difference when trying to manage classes, practicum, and maintaining a social life. Over the past year I have learned a thing or two about time management or the lack there-of, so I thought I would compile a few tips that could make grad-life a bit more manageable.
Tip #1: Prioritize your schedule
- Have a monthly calendar that is visible to you on a daily basis. Whether this means you get a fancy planner, calendar whiteboard, or download a calendar app. Start by getting out your syllabi and writing down all your assignments, quizzes, and exams for the entirety of the quarter. Being able to see your upcoming deadlines will give you a better idea of how to manage your time and stay on top of papers.
- Create a daily or weekly to-do list on your notes app in your phone or in your planner. This will help you stay on track and create a sense of accomplishment as you slowly dwindle the to-do list throughout the week.
Tip #2: Learn how to use your time efficiently
Graduate school professors love to assign a plethora of readings and you will quickly learn that skimming will become your best friend. When you are assigned almost 100 pages of reading per week it can be nearly impossible to read it all. Start by reading the introduction and conclusions of each article and skim through the subheadings.
- Skim chapters by taking notes in the margins or writing short phrases that capture the main point of the paragraph.
- Writing discussion questions for class is also a great way to prepare for group discussion and bridge the gaps between the readings and class material.
Tip #3: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Self-care is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, self-care has also become a huge buzz-word in the social work community and as a social work student the idea of self-care is often not as grand as one might think. Here are some ideas for smaller self-care options:
- Call or text someone you love
- Drink a cup of tea or coffee
- Journal about how you're feeling
- Take some deep breaths or meditate
- Listen to your favorite music
- Go for a long walk in nature
- Read a book
These are just a few tips I've compiled over the past year in graduate school and I can assure you that time management isn't always easy. Some days you might not finish your task list or self-care may seem unattainable as you try to juggle practicum, school and a social life. On those days try to remember to give yourself grace and take it one day at a time.