Productivity Tips for Graduate Students

Written by , for, March 2014


Applying to grad school, recently accepted, or just thinking about how to get more done, it will help you to incorporate some of the following productivity tips into your daily program.

Be Organized

Some of us are organized by nature and some of us aren’t. Whether this mannerism is intuitive to you or not, it will pay-off big time to tackle the subject of organization in your life. Organized people get more done. Think of clutter in your life, like clutter in your mind. If you have too much going on in your mind, you will find it difficult to focus and excel at the task at hand. This is one of the many reasons people meditate. The practice helps you de-clutter your mind and focus in on the present moment. If you can take time to organize yourself, even little by little, you will find your focus and concentration will increase and you will be more productive. Added bonuses for being organized include having lots of extra space, always knowing where things are when you need them, and more often than not being well prepared for any given situation.

Make Lists

Don’t be reactive to your day when you can be proactive. Make a list the night before of the most important things to get done the next day. Do this in whatever format makes the most sense to you. When you get up in the morning, there will be interruptions and requests for your time throughout the day. Make sure you have prioritized your list and you make time for yourself to complete your to do’s. A lot of people get up in the morning, check their email and voicemail, go to work or school and then begin to think about what they have to get done in their day. This is being reactive to the world around you. Value yourself and your agenda above that of other people’s requests of you. Use your list as a tool to help you set boundaries regarding what you will and will not tackle. Most importantly, be realistic about what you can get done in a day. Don’t list a million things to do if you will most likely only be able to accomplish four. Set a realistic goal for the day and work hard to reach it. You want to finish your work at the end of the day feeling accomplished and satisfied rather than beat up for falling short.

Get Up Early

Even for those of us that aren’t morning people, a little extra time in the morning will help you wrap your head around your day and the necessary tasks to complete. Give yourself ample time in the morning to wake up properly, get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast and do a little organizing before you leave the house. This is a great time to update/modify your to do list, throw in a load of laundry, pay some bills or knock out some other small task. Starting the day, just a little bit ahead, will give you a positive push toward accomplishing other larger tasks.

Take Care of You

While it seems counter-intuitive, you have to value your own self enough to make time in the day for self-care. Get enough sleep (at least 7 hours), eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, meditate or start a spiritual practice and make some time to socialize. When we are busy and looking at being more productive, we tend to steel time away from the most important self-care practices. While this will work in the short term, in the long run you are headed for an epic fail. If your schedule does not allow enough time for you to balance the demands of your work, school and other responsibilities with these most important practices, you should reconsider how you have things set-up. You will not be able to truly succeed and put your best self forward to the world, if you do not make time to take care of you. Think of yourself as a bank of money. Many of the hard things you do everyday take withdrawals from the bank of you. Make time to make deposits as well or you will soon run out of money.

Learn More About Surviving Graduate School

About the Author: Kerry Auge is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in business.

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