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Time Management Tools for Dissertations

    Make a Schedule

    • Scheduling long-term tasks keeps the big picture clearer.terminkalender mit rotstift image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com

      A rough long-term schedule can be a tremendous asset in keeping your dissertation on track. A common method suggested is to start with your desired graduation date. From this date, look up all the important dissertation submission dates-when do you need to submit the final version? When do you need to defend your dissertation to your committee? Plan some time for editing and writing and work back to the point you are at now. Make a deadline for drafts of all of the chapters and your proposal (remember: the introduction and conclusions should be saved for last).

    Go to Work

    • Treat your dissertation like a job. Plan to sit at your desk or in your lab specific hours each day. Work on your dissertation during this time even if you don’t want to, and continue working on it until your scheduled time is up. Sometimes, you won’t have a choice about when you need to work on your dissertation, but sticking to a daily work schedule can help you make progress.

    Make a Pact

    • Make a pact with a fellow student. For example, you could say “I’m going to write 10 pages” or “I will work on my analysis for three hours.” Agree to meet or exchange progress at the end of the day; honesty is the best policy here. When you meet your goals, celebrate and set new goals. If you or your buddy don’t make the goal, the other can provide encouragement. If you are unable to develop this peer relationship face to face, web-based communities of students working on their dissertations may be helpful; one is called “Phinished.”

    Use a Timer

    • A timer can be a low-cost dissertation assistant.wind up timer at 0 minutes image by Andrew Brown from Fotolia.com

      Perhaps the most effective method is the simplest. Set a timer for a short period of time and work toward a particular goal until the timer runs out. Dissertation writers often use 30 minutes, also known as “tomatoes”, or 45 minutes, also known as “mangoes” for these focused periods. You can use a kitchen timer, or use a web program, like My Tomatoes or Write or Die. This method works best for writing and editing tasks as other tasks, such as analysis or lab work, tend to require larger chunks of time.

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