The one lesson I will take away after a year of grad school: “Don’t be busy. Be productive.”
Time management is SO important in grad school. When I first started grad school for School Counseling, I chose to go full-time. I was at the max of 12 credits, working in an office setting, and serving/bar-tending on weekends for about 20 hours each week. I learned VERY fast that time management is key to being successful in school and at work. I have always felt that I was good at managing my time but this was different. I had to make sure that school was the first priority and figure out how to make that happen when it’s so easy to put it on the back burner. For example: I learned that if school is my first priority, and therefore had to get done in the morning. I was too exhausted at the end of the day to even think about reading.
Another key for me to manage my time was my planner, which is my baby. At the beginning of the semester I made myself a road map; I took all my syllabi and wrote down every due date for every assignment. Then I went back through it and figured out when I should start each assignment and wrote myself reminders throughout my planner. I also added my work schedules in as I received them. At the beginning of each week, I looked it all over and saw if I had any opportunities to get ahead or compared schedules to make sure I had enough time to get my weekly goals accomplished. Needless to say, this planner saved my life. It never left my side. I was constantly checking and doing my best to stay on track.
Lastly, I want to mention how important it was for me to choose to make time for myself. It’s really easy to get burned out in grad school. The key to avoiding burnout is finding time to do something you enjoy. For me, that is making time before I go to sleep to watch at least one episode of New Girl on Netflix. It was my release to step away from the madness and get lost in this show. And of course, it was scheduled in my planner!
At the end of the day, my biggest recommendation to succeed in grad school is, “Don’t be busy. Be productive”. Get a planner. Use every second effectively. It will pay off.