Graduate School Time Management: Using Time Wisely

Ever get annoyed whenever you hear people complaining about how busy they are? Or that they don’t have any time to really do anything? I know I do. Going back to school definitely calls for time. In a previous post, I mentioned that the hardest thing about returning to school is finding the time to actually work towards the degree. But let me tell you - it’s not impossible. Let me put my life into perspective: I’m working towards my Masters in Communication Online, planning my wedding, and working full time. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

Let me walk you through some thoughts on managing your time wisely:

1. Make friends with your calendar

I like to use Google Calendar and import everything into my phone. That way, I know when things are due and when I have time to work on school assignments. It’s important to commit to your designated study or assignment times. I know that life can sometimes get in the way, and believe me, that’s okay. Just make sure you’re able to reschedule your designated study time - your graduate degree depends on it!

2. Work on assignments in chunks

In every class, you’ll need to turn in a final project. It’s best to pace yourself and set up a schedule for what to work on and when. It’s a good idea to break your week into sections as well. Each online communications course will have you participate in weekly discussions, so to break those up, I like to read the discussion prompt before tackling the weekly readings. I’ll then write out and submit my discussion post the following day. Towards the end of the week is when I’ll respond to discussion posts.

3. Take advantage of downtime throughout the day

Start looking out for small chunks of your day where you’re just waiting around. If you take public transportation to work, it might be a good idea to bring along your readings. I like to download the PDFs to my phone so I can read while I’m on the train or if I’m waiting to be picked up somewhere. Before you know it, you’ll have realized how much time you actually spend waiting that can be turned into time dedicated to reading and taking notes for class! Just recently, I took my pup for her yearly visit to the vet and in the time I was waiting for her appointment to be done, I read just about everything for the week, so I didn’t have to dedicate much time on school once I got home!

4. Treat yourself with the little things

For me, it’s important to give myself a little reward after reading and note-taking, and posting to a discussion board. I love Buzzfeed. It’s definitely my guilty pleasure. So when I’ve clicked “submit,” I’ll treat myself to a quiz on Buzzfeed or take a little time to scroll through Facebook or SnapChat. I encourage you to do the same. Find something small that makes you happy and reward yourself after completing something for school.

It’s not easy fitting grad school into an already busy schedule, but just like everything else, it’s absolutely something worth spending time on.

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Eileen Perez is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Eileen Perez is a Miami native who lives for creativity and is a sucker for good commercials. Since earning her undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 2011, she has immersed herself in paid social media, and has developed the creative social media strategies for many accounts, ranging from indie films to former film and TV stars. Some of her favorite or proudest moments include running a live YouTube AMA for Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and Bill Courtney. She is currently a member of the social media team at an advertising agency in Boston, where she develops paid and earned social media strategies for her clients in the automotive industry while working on completing her BS in Communications online at Purdue University. Outside of work, Eileen considers herself to be a "NASA nerd" and was awarded social media credentials to attend a SpaceX/NASA launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida, where she witnessed the Dragon Capsule/Falcon 9 launch for CRS6 in April of 2015.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.