What are my values?
Do my current actions reflect those values?
Values are those core ideas you have about the worth of something, and the judgments you make about what is important in life. The values we form help determine how we use our time, e.g. if there are 30 spare minutes, someone who values orderliness and needs a tidy space to think clearly may spend that time organizing their work and home space, while someone who places a higher importance on fitness may go for a run.
Our attitudes or opinions stems from our values which, in turn, result in our actions. When our actions (e.g. chronically missing deadlines) and our values (e.g. being a responsible student) don't match, we tend to feel conflict. Students generally place a high priority on successfully completing their university degree (a value), think they are capable of doing this (an attitude), and are willing to persist and do whatever it takes to get there (actions).
Motivation is one of the keys to success, and internal motivation happens when things are in line with our values.
What is my current approach to managing my time? e.g.
Why do I use this style and why do I keep using it?
When is this style helpful and when is it not effective?
When do I need to be more self-aware and change my style to suit the situation?
Generally, do I feel in control of the time available to me?
We all have developed personal habits that may help or hinder our efforts at using time effectively. These patterns may reflect our personal values, or may result in distress or internal conflict. The self-reflection questions will help you understand where you are coming from, and where you might want to go.
An Awareness Approach
1. Monitor → 2. Analyze → 3. Revise
Monitoring: How is my time used? What are my time usage patterns?
Analyzing: When am I the most productive? Is this style working for me? Should I change or modify what I am doing now?
Revising: Given what I now know, what do I need to change?
Grad school requires a great deal of independent thought and work. Therefore, one might assume that grad students have more control over their time. Although this might be true at some levels (e.g. organizing their schedules, setting up research apparatuses), there are many aspects of grad life over which a student has limited or nominal control (e.g. availability and time spent with supervisor; deadlines for proposals and theses; research data such as live lab specimens).
Even a well-organized grad student might face slowdowns and stoppages from time to time and this can be very frustrating and scary, especially when your 4th year of funding is drawing to an end and you still have 1 more year of work to do! Unchecked, high levels of stress associated with this feeling can produce crippling affects, both emotionally and physically. Your stress may affect not only you, but your loved ones and colleagues. Before things start feeling out of control, take time to sit down and analyze how much control you wield over each aspect of your program. Once you have a better (and probably more realistic) sense of your situation, you can implement processes and strategies to assist you in feeling more in control.