March 1, 2021

Planning for Success Part One: How to be a Time Management Champion in Grad School

“All time management begins with planning.” ― Tom Greening

Hello, welcome back to blogging for student success! As you prepare for the mid-point of this semester, we encourage you to create a plan for the coming academic semester, year, and journey. Planning for graduate school requires time management and discipline. So, ask yourself what does planning look like for me as a graduate student? Am I putting in the time to successfully build my day, week or month to reflect the goals I want to accomplish? We hope the following blog post will enhance your ability to plan and execute the goals you have outlined this semester! 

time management chart

Calendars: The vehicle to time management success 

Whether you use a virtual calendar system such as Microsoft Outlook or a physical planner, calendars are essential to managing our time and keeping track of it. Here are some tips outlining different stages of planning:  

  • Planning YearlyIn grad school there are various deadlines, some that are more immediate and some that are coming up in a few months. It’s easy to lose sight of the deadlines that are further away and that is why planning long term is essential.  Some items you can take into consideration when planning yearly are: Financial aid deadlines, proposal deadlines, professional conference registration deadlines, grant proposals, dissertation defense scheduling, qualifying exams, and major milestones. To begin with, look at the CGU calendars here , there are deadlines for tuition fees, form deadlines, etc. Which ones do you need to add to your calendar? In addition to this, inquire within your department to see if there is a calendar of events, some departments offer separate professional development conferences or lunch talks that can help you learn more about your field and network. Do you have certain milestones you must meet for your program? If you are not sure about this, schedule a meeting with your advisor to ensure you are aware of your program milestones and plan accordingly. 
  • Monthly Planning: Revisit your class syllabi and incorporate all test dates, papers, projects and reading deadlines into your calendar. Don’t forget to include mentor and advisor appointments as these are essential for your continued growth. Not only should you add these hard deadlines but make deadlines to hold yourself accountable as well. For example, if a paper is due March 22, add this date on your calendar and then ask yourself when do you plan to have the rough draft completed? When do you plan to revise and have a peer or writing consultant from the Center for Writing and Rhetoric (CWR) provide valuable feedback? When do you plan on making edits and submitting the final product? Be sure to break down the bigger tasks into smaller ones and place them on your calendar accordingly, you will be happy you did it later! 
  • Weekly Planning: Perhaps the format that most of us are familiar with, weekly planning is a “zoomed in” view and puts closer deadlines and priorities on our radar. Some items to mix into weekly planning can be study sessions, recurring appointments and deadlines. Look over your previous class notes and see if there was something that the professor mentioned that is to be addressed by next session that is not on already on your monthly plans. Maybe you received a low score on the last exam or received feedback from a paper and want to schedule some time with your professor for clarification and steps toward improvement. Schedule this time accordingly during weekly planning, as your professors are just as busy as you are! A good practice is reviewing the syllabus and the professor hours of availability or contact informationYour weekly plans are more likely to change with last minute emails and things that come up, be patient and be flexible when doing this! 
  • Daily Planning: Why a To-Do List? Creating a daily list will keep one focused towards achieving goals. Before you go to sleep take at least 15 minutes or more and dedicate your time to building a daily list of agenda items. You can drop items into a note application in your smartphone and push the notifications to your device calendar as reminder or you can use a notepad. The goal is to prioritize your list to effectively manage your day and differentiate between graduate school versus personal items.  
    • Two simple ways to make a list of priorities is to first make a list of items that have a systematic approach. For an example you can color code, use bullet points or numbers to level the list by order of importance. A second approach is using categories such as “do now”, “do later” and “if I have time”. Using this format is based on preference but should serve as a guide to focus your time and energy.  

To Do list

Remember-our time management tools and strategies are always evolving with different stages of life! Even seasoned professionals are constantly finding ways to improve time management and work more effectively. What does your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning look like? What to-do list items are you prioritizing today and howRemember this space is for YOU! If you have any questions or suggestions, we invite you to email us at 

Sources used:  

Time Management Tips for Graduate Students – 

How to Prioritize Your To-Do List and Work Less (Plus 5 Prioritizing Tips) –