Planning, time management is a skill a lot of PhD-students struggle with. In this blog a few tips on how to plan well.

On top of the chart:

Never plan more than 80% of your time.

The rest of the time will fill itself with unexpected things that need to happen: a colleague walking in, the meeting that takes longer, the things that take longer than expected.

2. Is clear for you which tasks you need to do and how these different tasks are connected?

Map it out for yourself. Divide big tasks into smaller once. Writing an article for instance can be divided into the following smaller tasks:

  • summarize your literature
  • get the structures of your text clear
  • make sure text will be written, so free write
  • make charts
  • revise the literature list
  • discuss your text with others
  • rewrite your text
Realise that you have tasks that are connected to your research, with other aspects of your job (teaching, meeting, organizing conference) and with your personal life.
Also ask yourself which tasks you will have in the different phases of your research.
3. Plan backwards
Make sure you know when the deadline is, en then plan from that point in time. In case of writing a paper for a congress for instance, often the paper needs to be submitted a long time in advance, you need time to make revisions, writing full time is not possible, your abstract need to be accepted, you need the data for your paper, and so on, and so on. Make sure you have all the tasks clear, and plan them in time. Often you will notice that you will need more time for a task than you expected.
Writing a paper for a congress, you often need to talk to your supervisor a year (!!!) in advance whether to see if it is a good idea to write an abstract and a paper. You will really need that time!
4. Use the Eisenhower matrix
The American president Eisenhower supposedly said that urgent matters are not very often important ones. Eisenhower is considered a master in time-management: doing the right things at the right moment. The Eisenhower method helps you to divide important and urgent tasks. It doesn’t matter what you need to do: always start with filling out the Eisenhower model and then decide what to do when.

Often we focus on the urgent but not so important matters. But when do you give yourself the time to do the important things, before they become urgent?

A video on how to improve your planning with the Eisenhower-matrix:


5. Use the Warren Buffet-method

According to Warren Buffet, the multi multi billionaire, this is a good time for planning: make a list of everything you want to do today. Start with the task on top of the list. Don’t continue before you finished that task. When you finished a task, cross it off.

And maybe the most important tip: be realistic in your planning. Nothing is more frustrating than having things on your to do list you won’t be able to do. Keep that in mind whilst making a plan.

Hope this helps you to plan your time accordingly that you will have a lazy summer. Hope hearing from you if it was beneficial for you.


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