Dear Faculty Relations - How do I know what I should prioritize? Now that the semester has begun, I am feeling overwhelmed and rushed but not accomplishing much. I have no idea where to begin. – Time is Getting Away 

Dear Time - Most people feel rushed and find themselves “busy” but not productive because they are not planning realistically and are not honest with themselves about their priorities.  Here are my top three tips on how to prioritize your time. 

1. Identify your priorities.  

For example, we can spend all day saying that academic writing is a priority, but if you do not have regular time in your day set aside for writing, writing is not a priority.  How you spend your time tells you what you are currently prioritizing.  If you don’t like it, change it.  Set aside time for what you need to spend time on.   

2. Decide what needs to be done today and make a plan. 

Build trust in yourself by making realistic plans and sticking to them. If the priority is deadline driven, then there is an obvious need to put that before more nebulous tasks such as spending two hours coding data. Factor in your personal responsibilities and needs as well. You need time to make dinner, clean up, exercise, and so on. Remind yourself that there will never be a day when everything gets done. Letting go of perfection helps to reduce procrastination.   

3. Plan tasks around your energy. 

Most of us start the day with more energy. Try to figure out what hours are generally your “best” and plan priority tasks during that time. Trying to do challenging work when you are exhausted is discouraging. Track your nutrition and sleep patterns because both will significantly affect your motivation.   

These are three easy steps to get you started.  If you would like more, please join the Goal Alignment and Time Management workshop, designed to help faculty align their goals and priorities with their energy and time allocation using a productivity framework, on February 15, 11:30-12:50, via Zoom. Register here. 

Written by Leslie E. Blood, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Community & Professional Development, Graduate School, February 2023.