PhD Progress & Thoughts

How To Be The Best At Time Management…

…and still have your husband wondering what you’re doing tomorrow.

For those other organised people out there in long-term, cohabiting relationships, you know precisely what I mean.

The Process

I have a personal diary in whatever bag I take with me, a Desk-diary with everything and anything written in it, a month-per-view calendar, and a year-per-view calendar. I set alarms on my phone for specifically important meetings and activities, and have even started the habit of outlining my weekly ‘to-do’ list in a bullet-journal style exercise book.

There never is, and never has been, an excuse for forgetting or missing something. It’s all analogue, so device batteries are never a factor in my ability to stay on top of my deadlines, and the bag-diary is used to record events as they are given to me in the moment. By transcribing items in triplicate I commit them to memory and am able to keep on top of everything on the rare occasion I leave everything at home and have to rely on my ability to recall the to-do list for the day.

It also allows me to pinpoint where I can be flexible, and where I cannot negotiate a deadline. For me, personally, it’s a system I’m happy to work with. And yet despite all of the resources I have on public display in the home, my partner often has no idea what I’m up to week-to-week. It’s a worrying indication that he never checks the calendar I’ve put in a convenient place for him, because it often details activities like his regular dentist and doctors’ appointments.

Today’s Example

Today was fairly light on the to-do list, accompanied by a few things left over from last week’s non-urgent tasks.

7am – Wake up, shower, get dressed, have coffee while checking emails.
7:30am – Wake up husband, guide his sleepy self to his morning tasks
8am – Drive husband to work.
8:30am – Fill up the car with petrol before the long weekend ahead
9am – Take books back to the library, check mailboxes, get a cheeky second coffee
9:30am – Start work on my Hypothetical Model and Methodology thesis chapter drafts
11am – Check email, take a quick break
11:25am – Get back to work.
1pm – Receive call from sister
1:30pm – Receive an email requesting some admin work be filed. Fill out the admin work.
2pm – Get a snack and stretch my back a little bit
2:35pm – Finish off the little bits of work left for the day
4pm – Write some blog posts, set up a new bank account (part of the admin work) and enjoy some music
4:30pm – Chip away at one of the thesis chapters until partner comes home
5:30pm – Partner comes home. Make some crispy salted mushrooms as a snack before dinner
7pm – Make steak & gravy for dinner
8pm – Clean up dinner while partner finishes the last bit of his paperwork
9pm – Watch some TV together before bed
10:30pm – Remind husband that I need more sleep than he does, and go to bed
(Husband stays up until midnight/1am, then goes to sleep)

If the workload is light, I sprinkle in a few excursions in the attempt to add some variety to my life and get some out-of-the-house tasks done. This week in general I’m intending to recycle old light bulbs and batteries at IKEA (and get some tasty meatballs!), visit an apiary and pick up some cheeky mead and speciality honey for New Years’ Eve, before swinging over to the Library to print off tickets to No Such Thing As A Fish for next year, and photocopy some calligraphy I received in November.

What works for your time management? Let me know in the comments!

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