Every so often it’s a good idea to have a think about whether you are making effective use of your time – especially when you are so focused on your work. It’s all too easy to get into bad habits over the summer which could possibly reduce your effectiveness.
To help you along the way, here are our tips on how you could manage your time better whilst researching and writing-up:
- Be SMART
Create a realistic schedule with achievable goals by setting yourself SMART objectives for set tasks or pieces of time:
Specific: Make sure your objective is well defined and clear.
Measurable: How will you know when it’s finished – make sure it has an end and you know when to stop.
Achievable: Is it realistic given the time and resources you have?
Relevant: Is it ‘nice to have’ or essential? If it’s not essential think about why you’re doing it.
Timely: Set a realistic timescale for this task.
You may have heard of ‘SMART’ objectives in a different context, but thinking about your work in this way really can help you stay focused.
- Get things done with a to-do list
Write a realistic to-do list each day to help keep it manageable – and write it the night before. That way, you can hit the ground running first thing in the morning. This should help you get the habit of just getting on with it first thing.
- Know yourself and be honest!
Think about what time of the day you are at your most productive and work out what stops you from studying. Think about what motivates you – do you like to work steadily or under the pressure of a deadline? By thinking honestly about how you work, you will plan your time better. It may also be worth alter your working style and try something new.
- Be accountable
Use someone – whether that’s your supervisor (depending on how often you meet), a housemate, friend or family member as a ‘project manager’. Show them a plan of what you want to achieve and ask them to regularly check you’re on course. It’s all too easy to keep things rolling onto the next to do list especially if you don’t have to tell anyone about it!
- Make better use of your time
If you’re not feeling motivated don’t slog away at a couple of paragraphs. Do some useful ‘admin’ – filing your research, check your formatting is correct or do some work on your bibliography.
- Make the most of each second
Don’t underestimate how much you can do in a short space of time – short bursts can be really productive. So, if you’ve set yourself a deadline of 4pm don’t stop work at 3.45!
- Stop scrolling and log-out
Sounds obvious – but don’t get distracted by social media and your emails! Set yourself specific times to check them – and stick to them.
- Don’t get disheartened
One last thing to remember is how writing can be a slow process. Don’t get disheartened if your word count isn’t increasing as quickly as you’d like. The groundwork takes lots of time as does redrafting. You will get there and by working at your most efficient it will be a little less painful!
Go along to a My Learning Essentials workshop
My Learning Essentials will be running workshops over summer, with many topics directly related to research and writing. If you would like more specific advice and tips on making the most of your time you can join the session on managing your time on the Tuesday 11 July.