Adding more time to your day

Getting more done in less time is the key to a productive day. Working efficiently is important for not just graduate students, but anyone who has to manage many tasks at once. The “All-but-dissertation Survival Guide” gives a few good pointers.

Five Secrets to Add More Time to your Day, by Carrie Silver-Stock, MSW, LCSW Have you ever met someone who seemed to have an incredible ability to maximize her time? Someone who seemed like he had 36 hours in his day? Are they super human? Or, have they figured out a secret way to add hours to their day? By making a few small changes in your daily routine, you too can begin to feel like you’ve added more time to every day. Here are a few ways to get started.

1) Prioritize:
To begin the process of adding more time to your day, you will want to ask yourself a few important questions.
1) What are my real priorities for the day or the week?
2) Where does my time go now?
3) Is my time currently being spent on the priorities I’ve listed at number one?
4) What is really important for me to accomplish and what is just busy work?
5) Finally, where do I really want my time to go?

2) Schedule Important Events:
After you’ve answered these questions for yourself, schedule the important events or activities that are a priority for you. For example, if you have decided that physical fitness is a priority, when are you going to fit in the four weekly workouts? If the dissertation is a priority (and I would think so!) what dates will you set as deadlines for each of the steps toward completion of the dissertation? Without writing down when you are going to work on something, the tendency is to push those tasks to the wayside.

3) Minimize Distractions:
Too often when we are preparing to complete a project, small and large distractions tend to take us off course. It can be as simple as the temptation to check our email, talk to friends, or answer the phone. Try to create a space where you can minimize your distractions. Close your office door for 30 minutes. Send all your phone messages to voicemail, or plan on checking your email only at three set times a day.

4) Energize:
Sometimes a feeling of low energy can zap us of any desire to get tasks done. There are a few simple things you can do to enliven your day.

1) Take a look at what time of day you work best. Are you a morning person or an evening person? Capitalize on your best work times.
2) Don’t forget to eat breakfast. According to Bonnie Spring, Ph.D., eating breakfast can prevent many of the adverse effects of fasting, such as irritability and fatigue.
3) Add a little exercise to your day. If you aren’t one to exercise for 20-30 minutes a day, getting up to stretch or simply adding a 10-15 minute walk during your day may give you that boost you need.
4) Don’t forget to drink more water. Many studies have shown that simply being dehydrated can cause fatigue and dull your critical thinking abilities.

5) Ask for Help:
Asking for help can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how a task can be divided up or delegated to other co-workers or members of the family. Another strategy can be to hire help. Maybe budgeting a little extra money for a babysitter or a cleaning service could be well worth your money, depending on the value of your time.

With some creative thought and effort, you really can find the extra time you need to finish your dissertation and still have time for your life. Try these five steps–You may become the one in whom your friends stand in awe as you make more room in your day!