Tried and tested time management tips for UK PhD scholars in 2022


Presenting tried and tested time management tips for UK PhD scholars in 2022.Academic PhD researchers in UK have a lot of deliverables in order to meet the UK university protocols. At a minimum, you as a PhD researcher is likely to be working on PhD journal publications, thesis presentations, pre proposal submissions, UK research proposal submissions and conducting studies. Many of you doing PhD in UK, might also be teaching part time, or guiding and mentoring master degree students, or doing peer review for research journals. Apart from these intellectually stimulating work; there is also lot of admin work in UK university that you may need to handle for your Professor and guide. There are research logistics related issues in UK, that PhD scholars in UK need to be aware with their core PhD research related activities. In addition, there may be delays that can leave you with less time than you had imagined.

In order to be a successful PhD researcher to complete your PhD degree on time, it is imperative that you make optimum use of your time spent in PhD curriculum. Rule one of everyday life in PhD degree is effective time-management that guides every other activity, helps you to cope with the last-minute stress, delays in data collection. This is the single most reason, that ensures that your PhD research journey is smoother and fruitful. This article ‘Tried and tested time management tips for PhD scholars in 2022‘ is a compilation of wisdom shared by UK PhD researchers about academic time management strategies in UK universities that have helped them improve their efficiency.

1. Project management tools for PhD: Efficient planning is the key to effective time-management for every PhD research scholar. Therefore, it is best to have a structured plan for your PhD thesis in your mind at the beginning. This starts from the very idea of PhD topic search, PhD title narrowing down at pre proposal or post proposal submission stage. Next, before the start of UK university of PhD semester in the academic year learn using project management tools for planning PhD better. Most of them are online tools for PhD (Asana, Trello, ProofHub, to name a few) and these can help for the entire PhD course.

2. Set multiple PhD goals: Once you’ve listed down your major PhD goals set them as deadline. Next step is to identify and work on similar goals by dates and accomplish them simultaneously. This multi-tasking ensures you are making progress in PhD. Let us take an example, don’t wait to complete your research on pre proposal, proposal. If you can move to next stage of methods section or maybe attempt writing your PhD journal publication. You can write the Methods section as you conduct your experiments, survey or interviews. Further clarity will show that as the details of the procedures emerge in your mind, you will engage with your Professor to show your progress in PhD that multiple goal setting helps you to achieve.

3. Assigning realistic deadlines: If you must be having a deadline for an important goal in mind. So apply PERT CPM, which is deadline is on dd/mm/yyyy and start working backwards, splitting steps of PhD research goals leading to final goals into smaller tasks, with deadlines. Factor-in the foreseeable challenges and set realistic timelines. Keep some buffer time to ensure that your plan is not over-ambitious. Fitting in too much into a day or week can be counter-productive: you may lose motivation and stop following your schedule altogether or you might overwork yourself and run the risk of an early burnout.

4. Daily to-do list and weekly target list: Creating to-do lists on a daily basis and weekly basis is achieving your monthly PhD goals. This work breakdown structure is a simple way to track your PhD research work for the day and check it for progress by weekend. It is really satisfying to see your planned tasks in each week (week 1 of the month, week 2 of the month,….) and then struck off the list for all that is achieved in PhD logbook. Spend the last 5 minutes of each work day/.week, to evaluate your PhD logbook. Any pending task in PhD requires a quick to-do list to be at par with deadline.

5. Freeze your high-priority tasks: Blocking your calendar for larger important PhD research tasks that need focused attention and concentration is an ideal strategy. Yes! You need to be selfish in that way, as deadline in PhD works should be of prime importance for PhD researchers. For example, some researchers block large chunk of time like a month at the beginning of their academic writing helpful. It is good to reserve time for literature review that helps to find gaps in literature review, set research main questions for chapter one, write research scope, set draft conceptual framework in PhD or segregate hypothesis. Rather than attending to your emails first thing in the morning, investing that time in making headway in your PhD manuscript writing or literature review in PhD will give you a sense of accomplishment and you step closer to your PhD goal.

6. Learn to say “no”: As a PhD researcher in UK, there will be social life of course and disruptions too. A lot of friendly requests and opportunities to socialise will come your way. However, we recommend that learn to say NO. This period of research in PhD can make you lose sight of your goals. Ask yourself if you can balance heady cocktail of socialisation with indepth PhD research grade A+ work? Or think about the consequences, you have the bandwidth to take on, say, an extra review for another semester in PhD asking for extension?

7. Avoid distractions: Turn off all social media interactions (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp etc ) push notifications on your smartphone. You also need to find ‘metime’ for your PhD research, and you sincerely need to put your phone in ‘do not disturb’ mode. After your focused work sessions. At the end of each session, spend no more than 5 minutes checking your phone and mails. However, resist the temptation to engage in phone a friend, attending to all emails during this time of yours. Tip to avoid distractions in PhD is to send short email replies to only the urgent ones.

8. Avoid procrastination: Procrastination is the biggest enemy of students, and PhD students are bigger victims. WHY? The self paced PhD in UK is all about effective time management: we all know this in our Bachelors and Masters degree phases and how difficult it is to get ourselves to do the tasks after procrastination. We may don’t like or that we know will be challenging. One good way to avoid procrastination is scheduling a difficult task on the same day, when you have a personal plan.

9. Do not precrastinate: Yes, you heard that right! Precastrastinate. “precrastination” may be new to some of us. Precrastination is another way of delaying a task that you don’t want to do by telling yourself that you must attend to other less significant tasks first. For example in PhD you have to respond to emails, and you resist doing this and stick to your schedule as far as possible. So solution is to respond to emails at a fixed time of the day and 5-10mins time slot. When you generally feel less productive to attend to emails and other low-priority tasks.

10. Take breaks for 7-10mins: Most of the spiritual gurus, cognitive psychology professors advise to spend the whole day at your computer desk. Instead, working in focused blocks of one hours with a 7-10 minutes break. You can also take 5mins after each 30minutes when you are cramming journals, reading them to write your literature review in PhD. Breaks help brains to relax and these sessions helps to improve PhD productivity. Using these breaks like drinking water, to washroom, a hot cup of organic tea, or stand in verandah or window. Alternatively, you can also do light exercises for physical activity inside your room. Walking to the balcony with your cuppa, fresh air and light exercise, can be immensely helpful to your body and then to your mind. The above discussion are some of the tried and tested time management tips for UK PhD scholars in 2022.

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