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Time blocking


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Hi everyone!

In a couple of weeks I'm starting my first year as a PhD student. A few years back (or more) I completed an MA at a different school than this one, but I had a lot of trouble with time management, and I feel like I could have done a lot better with those two years. Since then, I've been teaching and developing better time management skills, but grad school is going to test my ability to stay on top of things (as it does to us all.) 

I know that time blocking is a great way to plan and manage one's time, and I just am wondering, for those of you who practice time blocking in a planner, online, or on the back of napkins from Starbucks every morning, what does your schedule look like?  

I'm hoping that mine will look something like this:

8:30-9:20 AM TA-ing

9:30-10:40 AM class (Tues, Thurs)


9:30-12:00 Language homework (M, W, F)

12-12:30 Lunch

Afternoons-- classes on Monday and Thursday


Afternoons Tues, Weds, Fri- read for 2-3 hours, write for 1 hour 

5:00-8:00 pm workout, rest, eat, TV

8:00-10:00 pm leftover work I didn't get to


That seems like an overly full day, huh? But that's basically what my husband did for his grad program. Saturdays I'll try to catch up on things for a couple of hours (trying to take most of the day off,) and Sundays are for prep for the new week.

How do you time block? How much time to you give yourself for different tasks? How do you estimate how much time you will need?

Edited to add that in those longer time blocks, I will schedule breaks every 20-50 minutes. I know that helps avoid burn out. ;)

Edited by rheya19
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I definitely dont have that full of a day as you do. Ill be working during the day and then coming home for dinner and studies. Im starting an online accelerated masters program in sociology next week. Most, actually probably all, of my time will go towards working and studies. 

I received the syllabus a little early for the first class Im taking and the course looks very heavy with reading. I have the same questions as you do. How much time do I need for each section of reading and how much time should I have to prepare for the exams? I will need to read chapters in the textbook, chapters in a reader (extra material out together by the professor), read articles, watch videos, and watch lectures. Im just afraid there will be so much reading and not enough time to get through it and study for exams. 

Also, would you recommend that I take detailed notes for each section of material? 

Im just trying to determine the best way to read everything and study the material. Class officially starts next Thurs the 17th. 

In response to your question @rheya19, Im sure how to time block. Starting graduate school, I should know but Im just unsure. 

Any help from anyone is appreciated. 

Edited by speechfan222
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Trying to be productive from 8:30am to 10pm with minimal breaks just isn't a good idea. It's a recipe for burnout. It's also worth thinking about whether you can be productive for 3 hours consecutively studying a language or if you might be better off doing something like the Pomodoro technique and doing 2-3 Poms on a topic before switching to another task on your list.

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I block out entire days for one main thing (although this can be broken down to smaller tasks of course).

So if I have classes MTW, for example, I'll do all my readings, class prep, and math exercises for the next week on those days. TH, F, S, would be reserved for research - writing, grant writing, collecting data, etc. This time can also be used for seminar papers.

I always take one day off and Sunday is usually most convenient for me. I work from 9-6ish 6 days a week, never in the evenings unless I really need to finish something important (but I work/plan ahead so this is extremely rare).

I find giant blocks of time to work on one larger task more beneficial for me because it allows me to get really involved into it.

Edited by Comparativist
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I've tried time blocking many times and for some reason it never seems to work for me. Inevitably, my days always kind of fall apart and I end up working on whatever seems most pressing, regardless of what I had planned. I'm sure this has something to do with the way my supervisor operates (e.g. sending me 100 emails per day). I know some people who time block very well, but I guess I just haven't found a way to do it myself.

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