Arguably one of the most important skills when completing a PhD (or any other degree for that matter) is organisation. There are always a million tasks to complete, and when you throw work, having a social life, and sleeping into the mix it can get overwhelming. Although, there is often no way of being less busy- there are a few different techniques that can be used to organise your time, keep on top of your tasks, and not forget those important meetings.
1. A good ol’ fashion diary-
I used to be obsessed with my diary (a few of my old posts allude to that fact) as I found it a great way to organise my time, keep on top of events, and write lists, all in the one place. Now-a-days I have actually moved away from a physical diary, mainly because it was an extra thing to carry around and I would forget to check my diary (which is not very helpful). However, for many people a diary is still their favourite organisation technique. If you are a diary lover, I recommend checking out the Emmakateco diaries, they are my favourite!
2. Outlook calendar-
I am sure that most of you are aware that outlook (or gmail or any of the other email accounts) have calendar apps. This is a great way to stay organised because your email or phone will alert you of your events/reminders meaning it is very difficult to forget.
3. Daily to do lists-
I have a crappy notebook from the work stationery cupboard sitting on my desk that I use to make a to-do list each day. These can be minor tasks like “book in car for service” and major tasks like “write section 4 of chapter 1”. I find this so useful to remember all the little tasks I have to do each day that I don’t put in my calendars or on my plans.
4. Post-it Note to-do list-
If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen my Post-it Note (or sticky note) to-do list. I use this technique to motivate me to finish those big tasks that I have each month.
5. The GTFO plan-
This technique is more specific to people getting close to the end of a PhD, but can also be adapted to other settings. I love this plan to keep long-term track of my progress and to reward myself with guilt-free days off after a week of productivity. Read about it here.
6. Google Docs-
Google excel docs are another great way to stay organised. You can set up your spreadsheet to be relevant to you (e.g. ‘date’/ ‘day’/ ‘event’/ ‘reminder’/ ‘location of work’ etc.). We all have different lives and different things we need to keep on top of to stay organised. The really cool thing about googledocs is that you can share your document with a partner or colleague or family member. This way everyone knows what everyone is up to and you can help each other stay organised.