AndersB

Time Management and Getting things done

19 posts in this topic

I have enrolled in full time PhD studies now at the same time as I try to hold on to a full time job. To make sure I don't burn out or get fired I really need to get more organised than ever.

Time management techniques and Getting Things Done methods are of particular interest. Have a look at this:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

A quick cheat sheet is found here:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/resources/pomodoro_cheat_sheet.pdf

And here is a full description:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/resources/ThePomodoroTechnique_v1-3.pdf

Basically the technique is based on how to divide up tasks into 25-minute chunks of concentrated effort, while dealing with interruptions and self-derailment. It looks good. I'll give it a try.

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I think getting things done is overrated. Many people get a lot more done than me but I don't recognise them as accomplishing more than me.

I tend to work as follows:

1. Maintain a list of all things on your mind.

2. Sort the list by what can be accomplished at the earliest possible time.

3. Sort the list by what can be accomplished in the shortest amount of time.

4. Do the thing at the top of the list.

5. Sort the list by what can be accomplished at the earliest possible time.

6. Sort the list by what needs to be accomplished at the earliest possible time.

7. Do the thing at the top of the list.

8. Return to item 1.

Edited by sydney3000

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I have enrolled in full time PhD studies now at the same time as I try to hold on to a full time job. To make sure I don't burn out or get fired I really need to get more organised than ever.

Time management techniques and Getting Things Done methods are of particular interest. Have a look at this:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

A quick cheat sheet is found here:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/resources/pomodoro_cheat_sheet.pdf

And here is a full description:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/resources/ThePomodoroTechnique_v1-3.pdf

Basically the technique is based on how to divide up tasks into 25-minute chunks of concentrated effort, while dealing with interruptions and self-derailment. It looks good. I'll give it a try.

Man you're crazy. Is there an endgame? Not that I discourage edumication. But why not work part time? And forget the tomato. (You know they're meant for cooking)

We won't be seeing much of you around here then? This place is one big apostrophe!

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I have enrolled in full time PhD studies now at the same time as I try to hold on to a full time job. To make sure I don't burn out or get fired I really need to get more organised than ever.

Time management techniques and Getting Things Done methods are of particular interest. Have a look at this:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

A quick cheat sheet is found here:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/resources/pomodoro_cheat_sheet.pdf

And here is a full description:

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/resources/ThePomodoroTechnique_v1-3.pdf

Basically the technique is based on how to divide up tasks into 25-minute chunks of concentrated effort, while dealing with interruptions and self-derailment. It looks good. I'll give it a try.

You can't cheat time.

Time has a way of catching up with you.

There are 24 hrs in the day. Nothing less, nothing more.

Enjoy the journey.

Whatever you choose to do with your life, that is your choice.

I don't think there is any life that is wasted - just different people make different choices about what is important to fill in your 3 score years and 10.

Does a contented labourer waste or fill life, any more than a busy college professor, or overworked brain surgeon?

Who knows.

Just leave some room for "love".

At the end of your life it will come down to those you love, and those who love you.

Everything else is subsidiary.

Waxing lyrical this evening.

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Thanks for the concern and good advice.

I have already wasted a couple of years doing a masters degree in finance that probably won't lead to anything better now that the whole industry is having a downturn.

Still, I'm fascinated by the subject, so I may as well do some research in it. Machine Learning algorithms for automated trading systems are interesting since I have worked a lot in the IT industry. Perhaps that would either lead to an interesting job in the investment sector (joining the dark side! ph34r.gif), or provide opportunities to teach at the university level.

My long suffering wife of 30 years is fully supportive and the kids have grown up. All my other family are overseas and I don't have many (genuine) friends to hang out with.

Alas, time spent hanging around on forums will have to be reduced. I'll still drop in from time to time, though.

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All the best with the PhD.

Totally agree with the importance of time management.

I have used GTD methods before, but sometimes I found them to be very restrictive, and I felt suffocated at times.

I just use the overall philosophy of it nowadays, as well as techniques from Robbins' "Time Of Your Life" (TOYL)

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You can't cheat time.

Time has a way of catching up with you.

There are 24 hrs in the day. Nothing less, nothing more.

Enjoy the journey.

Whatever you choose to do with your life, that is your choice.

I don't think there is any life that is wasted - just different people make different choices about what is important to fill in your 3 score years and 10.

Does a contented labourer waste or fill life, any more than a busy college professor, or overworked brain surgeon?

Who knows.

Just leave some room for "love".

At the end of your life it will come down to those you love, and those who love you.

Everything else is subsidiary.

Waxing lyrical this evening.

I've got to say that your post makes more sense to me than half of these time management strategies.

If people got on and did what needed to be done, instead of buggerising around "managing" their time, they wouldn't need such strategies. (Just my opinion).:rolleyes:

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I've got to say that your post makes more sense to me than half of these time management strategies.

If people got on and did what needed to be done, instead of buggerising around "managing" their time, they wouldn't need such strategies. (Just my opinion).:rolleyes:

Amen to that. Now, if only someone would have a quiet word to Management at my place of employment... so much 'managing', so little actually done...

Congrats on biting the Phd bullet, Anders.

It will no doubt be a life-changing experience for you, they always seem to be.

It's a process I have observed a number of times (but not participated in myself) and it certainly looks like it has its demands. Particularly the last year. Personally, I don't think I would bother to manage my time very much until the final write-up, when I'd use any trick in the book to make some progress.

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The buy-in of Mrs Anders is probably the most important factor. :)

For those who have worked f/t and studied post-grad p/t with small kids, is it feasible or just really painful?

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For those who have worked f/t and studied post-grad p/t with small kids, is it feasible or just really painful?

That sounds absolutely insane! Each one of those things is painful, all three together? crazy! I have experience though so maybe you go all the way through pain and come out the other side.

For what its worth I manage my time by always have small easily accomplish able tasks handy, like something that will take half an hour. That way when I start to lose focus on bigger tasks I switch over and do the small thing. Prevents procrastination and gives me a sense of achievement which keeps me going when I switch back to the big task.

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Hmmm.... I've tried the Pomodoro technique for a couple of days now.

Good points:

+ Makes you plan your work and write lists, which is good in general

+ Provides a simple way of keeping focus and manage interruptions. Interruptions are productivity sapping. I get derailed by my own associative mindset, where triggered ideas trigger new ideas and... before I know it I'm on Simple and Sustainable!

Bad points:

- I work as a project manager, so I am supposed to be the one that gets interrupted and deal with bush fires all the time.

- Is probably too task focused - or can you use a pomodoro for spontaneous relationship building and office banter?

I have also been thinking about how I function during the day. I did most of the last couple of years of coursework study after work in the evening until about 1-2am. That was OK, but the last few hours were always of marginal productivity (especially after beer with dinner!). Still, reviewing lecture notes, tutorial excercises, reading and memorising are fairly straightforward stuff. Thinking, solving problems and writing requires more concentration. I will therefore try to change the order of how I will go about my day.

This is what I will try to do:

* 3:00 AM, have something quick to eat and get ready.

* 3:30 AM Spend 30 minutes meditating about the goals for the day and new ideas.

* 4:00 AM Use Pomodoro for 4 hours of research study - reading journals articles, write comments, think about theory and how to address it, etc.

* 8:00 AM Have breakfast with wife for 30 - 45 minutes, travel to work

* 9:00 AM Use Pomodoro for 3.5 hours at work to do the thinking, planning and writing stuff (project plans, reports, formal correspondence, etc)

* 12:30 PM Lunch

* 13:30 PM Free-flowing work - be interrupted, have meetings, have informal chats, check Simple&Sustainable, etc.

* 17:15 PM Go home

* 17:30 PM Arrive home, chat with wife, read mail, occasionally cook something REALLY simple, relax.

* 18:30 PM Have dinner, drink beer. Chat some more. Hang out at Simple&Sustainable.

* 20:00 PM Sleep.

Doing the activities in this order would ensure that the most demanding stuff is done first and the easier (and more enjoyable) activities done later in the day. I then need to do 10 hours of study on the weekend - perhaps do it all on Saturdays to get Sundays off. This is a total of 30 hours per week of study. Hopefully, with high focus and productivity, that should be enough.

Edited by AndersB

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For those who have worked f/t and studied post-grad p/t with small kids, is it feasible or just really painful?

Possibly feasible if you are male & have a supportive partner.

Tends to be a non-starter if you are female.

Pretty much a disaster for the family as a whole, unless the experience is really outcomes focussed, ie 'We are all suffering together, to help fulfil daddy's dream of becoming a highly-paid oceanographer'.

I work in an unbelievably fecund environment, there are about 7-8 people expecting at any given time (from a workforce of about 100) so I've had a lot of opportunity to see how various ways of managing lifestyles pan out.

BTW - Please don't start on about gender stereotypes, I have thought this through and am prepared to stand by my statements, generalisations though they are.

While there are no doubt honourable exceptions, in most families the care of small kids tends to primarily fall to the mother, and the care of small children (particularly in the plural) is not really compatible with effective study.

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BTW - Please don't start on about gender stereotypes, I have thought this through and am prepared to stand by my statements, generalisations though they are.

While there are no doubt honourable exceptions, in most families the care of small kids tends to primarily fall to the mother, and the care of small children (particularly in the plural) is not really compatible with effective study.

No offence taken. Mrs Medved would like to study and take care of kid(s) - that's our current plan, so I'd be interested in feedback from mothers who have done this.

I'm thinking of starting off with half the regular p/t course load (one unit at a time) to try it out. Each unit is one class per week plus a sh*tload of reading. I'd easily have the bandwidth to cover it now but not sure with infants/small children. My current employment is not overbearing and I have a relatively dormant social life so I have plenty of spare time at the moment... just not sure if I could take on both kids and study at the same time.

BTW, who gets up at 3am? :mellow:

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No offence taken. Mrs Medved would like to study and take care of kid(s) - that's our current plan, so I'd be interested in feedback from mothers who have done this.

I'm thinking of starting off with half the regular p/t course load (one unit at a time) to try it out. Each unit is one class per week plus a sh*tload of reading. I'd easily have the bandwidth to cover it now but not sure with infants/small children. My current employment is not overbearing and I have a relatively dormant social life so I have plenty of spare time at the moment... just not sure if I could take on both kids and study at the same time.

BTW, who gets up at 3am? :mellow:

I agree that studying with infants or small children would be very hard. Kids screaming makes it impossible to focus, unless you have a totally separate and sound proof area to work. To study well you need to find around 10 hours of peace and quiet time per subject unit per week.

I haven't started on the 3am rise yet. It is just an idea that I want to try out. The advantages are that there are a minimum of distractions that early in the mornings and that I can have a beer with dinner again without having to worry about being too tired to study late at night. To keep it up I have to go to bed at 8pm every night. That should be OK though. It is just like a time zone adustment you have to do when you travel overseas. It will be interesting to see if it works in terms of higher productivity and if I can keep going with it.

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I haven't started on the 3am rise yet. It is just an idea that I want to try out. The advantages are that there are a minimum of distractions that early in the mornings and that I can have a beer with dinner again without having to worry about being too tired to study late at night. To keep it up I have to go to bed at 8pm every night. That should be OK though. It is just like a time zone adustment you have to do when you travel overseas. It will be interesting to see if it works in terms of higher productivity and if I can keep going with it.

But what about biorhythms? With a time zone change/jet lag you have the day/night cycle reminding your body to change it's patterns, but if you just get up at 3.00am, and it is still dark outside, won't your body just say bugger off and want to go back to sleep? Mine would.

I could manage a regular 5am start (maybe 4am in summer) but nothing earlier than that.

The idea of coming home at the end of the day with nothing to do but relax has definite appeal, tho.

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But what about biorhythms? With a time zone change/jet lag you have the day/night cycle reminding your body to change it's patterns, but if you just get up at 3.00am, and it is still dark outside, won't your body just say bugger off and want to go back to sleep? Mine would.

I could manage a regular 5am start (maybe 4am in summer) but nothing earlier than that.

The idea of coming home at the end of the day with nothing to do but relax has definite appeal, tho.

I always like the days when they start later!!

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But what about biorhythms? With a time zone change/jet lag you have the day/night cycle reminding your body to change it's patterns, but if you just get up at 3.00am, and it is still dark outside, won't your body just say bugger off and want to go back to sleep? Mine would.

I could manage a regular 5am start (maybe 4am in summer) but nothing earlier than that.

The idea of coming home at the end of the day with nothing to do but relax has definite appeal, tho.

I've found that 0500 is the only maintainable time to get up. Any earlier works for a bit but then I get a body crash where I pay in spades.

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Anders, your thesis topic sounds to me like the most boring thing in the world, but still, good for you! The sense of achievement will be worth the early mornings. Your timetable does sound incredibly challenging, but everyone is right that kids make everything more difficult. I did my PhD full time, working part time and raising some else's kids full time (now there's a thankless job) and managed it within 3.5 years but only by being a little bit insane the entire time, I think. I also had to make some compromises around my own standards of 'perfect' research, and basically do what needed to be done to pass with minimal fuss.

Other people, like my Mum, did her degree part time, worked full time and studied for hours EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Graduated dux of her class and thanks to a supportive partner kept her sanity. So it's a case of whatever works for you, really.

Time management strategies are good if you're the type of person who can work that way. After lots of panicking, I learned that my brain couldn't be just switched on and off, and that I had to wait until the creative urge struck to actually get any writing done, and most importantly TRUST my brain that it would kick in before a due date, and wouldn't fail me. Took awhile to learn how I operate, if that makes sense. For everything else non-creative, I like a good list.

And I agree that you have to make time for time management.

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Anders, your thesis topic sounds to me like the most boring thing in the world, but still, good for you! The sense of achievement will be worth the early mornings. Your timetable does sound incredibly challenging, but everyone is right that kids make everything more difficult. I did my PhD full time, working part time and raising some else's kids full time (now there's a thankless job) and managed it within 3.5 years but only by being a little bit insane the entire time, I think. I also had to make some compromises around my own standards of 'perfect' research, and basically do what needed to be done to pass with minimal fuss.

Other people, like my Mum, did her degree part time, worked full time and studied for hours EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Graduated dux of her class and thanks to a supportive partner kept her sanity. So it's a case of whatever works for you, really.

Time management strategies are good if you're the type of person who can work that way. After lots of panicking, I learned that my brain couldn't be just switched on and off, and that I had to wait until the creative urge struck to actually get any writing done, and most importantly TRUST my brain that it would kick in before a due date, and wouldn't fail me. Took awhile to learn how I operate, if that makes sense. For everything else non-creative, I like a good list.

And I agree that you have to make time for time management.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Boy, I'm tired already! The body just wants to drift back to normal hours, but I am not giving up. Having a break this Australia day holiday.

Pomodoro did not work out for me. I find that I like getting into the "zone" and then stay there as long as possible. Having that blasted clock ring every 1/2 hour is a pain in the butt and distracts my flow.

Arranging the type of work you do according to the time of day and energy level is working very well, though.

While we are on the subject of productivity, I would really recommend Evernote software. It is great! I think Max recommended it first on some thread on some forum some years ago.

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