Effective time and task management
Becoming an independent researcher involves taking responsibility for your work and, eventually, managing the implementation of your project. Time pressures, multiple demands and higher expectations are constant features of postgraduate study.
Without some detailed planning and specific targets, you won't necessarily know whether your project is on track, whether your progress is rapid or slow or whether you can expect to complete within the candidature period.
Now that you have a broad sense of the elements involved in a PhD and the attributes you are expected to develop, you can begin to plan how to use your time in coming months.
Earlier pages in this module aimed to provide a broad sense of the elements involved in a PhD and the attributes you are expected to develop. With these in mind you can begin to plan how to use your time in coming months.
'Look forwards, plan backwards' is the first principle of time and task management.
- What tasks do you need to have completed by the end of your degree?
- If you are to complete those tasks, what do you need to have done by the 2-year point of your candidature? By the 12 month point?
Revisit our PhD calendar in Module 1 - Starting your PhD if you want assistance to identify common milestones in PhD candidature.
Once you have a rough idea of what you need to achieve in the coming year, you can plan what you will do this semester, this month and then this week. You need to think across the three areas of candidature: the research project, the thesis, and professional development.
To visualise your work over the next semester, try completing a Gantt chart. For more detail, look at the next page, Charting tasks.
To organise your time effectively on a weekly basis review you weekly timetable. We look at this topic on the Review your weekly timetable page.