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Now that I’ve finished my series on designing your course materials and activities for the first week of class, I’d like to take a moment to provide some advice for those of you wondering how time management for graduate students who teach is even possible with all you have to get done. Plus, how you can keep up healthy habits while so overloaded with work. I realize that not all new college instructors are grad students. But, teaching assistantships are quite common for PhD students and even some MA students, so I want to make sure to offer advice to this large body of new instructors. Earning a graduate degree while living the rest of your life can be a struggle if you don’t go in with the right mindset and a plan. And even after years as a grad student, I’ve still needed to improve my own time management skills and self-care habits year after year. In today’s post, I’ve provided some time management tips and healthy habit tips to help you start your academic year off on the right note. FYI: If you’re a grad student but aren’t teaching as part of your responsibilities, many of the tips in this post are more general to the grad school experience.Here are 7 time management tips for grad students new to teaching. Four tips are general advice. Three tips are specifically about teaching. #gradschool #phdchat Click To Tweet
First, Find a Place to Organize Your Life
And by “place” I mean a planner, bullet journal, or app in which you can add all your to-do lists, meetings, assignment deadlines, and more. You might need more than one of these places depending on their designs, but you definitely do not want to depend on sticky notes or jotting down random notes and reminders on scraps of papers or any notebook or notes app you find most convenient at the time. That’s a sure fire way to lose track of important information.
Some Resources for This Step:
A Blog Post: Top Productivity Apps for Teachers and Students (includes Trello templates for the fall semester).
A YouTube Video: Planner or Bullet Journal Options (Paper & Digital)
Free Collection: Trello Boards for Academics [Free Resource Library]
In relation to this post, I’ve created a simple hyperlinked PDF that includes a set of weekly and daily page layouts. Keep yourself on track with its simple design. Join the Ever Educating community to get access to it in our resource library.
Second, Watch This Video on Time Management Strategies
This YouTube video offers seven tips about managing your time as a graduate student, especially if teaching is involved in your schedule. Of the seven tips, four of them are general strategies like time blocking and batching. The other three tips are more specifically for anyone who is teaching as part of their grad school experience. Since the video is pretty long (around 18 minutes), I’m embedding it here rather than just repeating what I say in it in written form. You can always multi-task while listening to the video, if you’re crunched for time at the moment. But, of course, I recommend taking the time to watch the video and take notes on the strategies.
This video is actually the first of two videos on advice for new college instructors who are just starting grad school and are looking for ways to balance their time well. The video above is focused on academia specifically. The video below is about balancing your life in general by creating healthy habits outside of work. The final tip of that video focuses on teaching, but the others are for any grad student looking to find a balance between their academic responsibilities and their life more generally.
Strategies Covered in Above Video:
- Time Blocking
- Time Batching
- Accountability Partner/Group (here’s a Trello board that can help)
- Keeping a Teaching Journal
- Scaffolding Your Assignments
- Diversifying Your Assignment Types
- Taking Breaks
Third, Apply the Strategies and Experiment with Them
Will all the time management strategies work for you? Probably not. Will the strategies work the first time you try them? Maybe. Maybe not. Experimentation is key here. Try out each of the general strategies one at a time or all at once. Design one or more of the strategies in a way you think fits your personality and responsibilities and see if it works well after a couple weeks or a month. Not happy with the outcome? Redesign your approach to the same strategy and try again.
For example, I tried time blocking my writing in the morning last semester, so that I would have plenty of free time in the afternoon and evening for other responsibilities and for rest. But, I couldn’t actually find the willpower to write immediately after waking up. Did I give up on time blocking? No. I just tried out a different schedule instead again and again until I found one that worked for that semester in particular.
Don’t give up. Experiment with these time management tips and others until you find the ones that work for you.What's essential to remember, though, is that life in grad school can't just be about your course work, teaching, and research responsibilities. #gradschool Click To Tweet
Fourth, Watch This Video on Creating Healthy Habits
Alright, so you have plans for managing all your academic responsibilities. What’s essential to remember, though, is that life in grad school can’t just be about your course work, teaching, and research responsibilities. Having self-care habits is also an important part of staying on a healthy track during your grad school years (and beyond). In the video below, I provide my own personal tips on how to find a balance between working hard and taking care of yourself. I cover common topics tied to self-care (exercise, sleep, etc.), but I’ve made sure to include strategies that I’ve used that aren’t often mentioned in popular online resources on this topic.
Start your academic year off right by carefully considering what habits you should be adding to your daily or weekly life. [Here’s a blog post/video about creating atomic habits.] This video only covers a few examples, so make sure to consider what other habits you want to add to your life. As with the time management strategies, experiment with forming these habits until you find an approach that works well for you. If you have your own suggestions to share, I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Tips Discussed in this Video:
- How to Get Enough Sleep
- Creating an Exercise Routine
- Make Eating Healthy Simpler
- Building a Support System/Community (here’s a video about creating accountability groups and trackers)
- Considering Your Teaching Preference Carefully
I’ve kept it brief today because the videos I included are already quite long. Next week, it’s back to a regular blog post about how to keep your students accountable in the classroom. If you want to be notified when that post goes live, all you need to do is sign up for my newsletter.
At ISU, the new semester starts this upcoming week. For all of you new to grad school and teaching, I wish you the best as you start on this exciting journey!
Comment Below: What time management tips for graduate students do you recommend? Healthy habits?
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