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Are you considering going back to graduate school? Do you have an already busy schedule? Go for it. You CAN do it, especially with a few time management tips and tricks.
Are we crazy? Probably. But these time management tips have helped.
After we left the life of an active duty Army family, we moved our house, pets, and business all the way across Texas (about eleven hours away) and started our new adventure. In the middle of growing our new farm, remodeling our house and establishing our business in this new place, we both went back to school full time. In the last three years, George and I have both completed our Bachelors Degrees, and MBAs. We are in our last class for an MS in Business Analytics for each of us. I’m also finishing up an MS in Management and an MS in Finance. Four masters degrees is a bit of overkill, I must admit, but there’s so much I want to learn. None of these can hurt us in our business.
So how did we do it? Hell if I know. (Just kidding). Seriously, there are a few common sense tips that can help.
Tip #1: Write everything down.
At the beginning of each semester, I go through all my classes and build a spreadsheet with every assignment, test and due date for every class. Then I sort them all by date and make it easy to read. Once each item is done, I highlight it in green. I love having lots of green on my spreadsheet. And actually since both my husband and I are full time students, I add his classes to the spreadsheet as well. This way we can both check it and remind each other that a due date is looming. And we can check it before scheduling work or life activities that will conflict.
Tip #2: Buy your books on Kindle whenever possible.
This might not seem like it fits in a list of time management tips, but stick with me and I’ll explain. When you need to research topics, or look up something quickly, the e-book is much faster. Also, online classes frequently have open book tests. It’s much faster to go directly to the information that you need in an e-book format and can help you finish your tests within the time limit. And a bonus is that you don’t have to carry heavy books. The Kindle version is usually cheaper to buy or rent. And if you rent, you don’t have to return the e-book. It is automatically deleted off of your device when your time is finished. That’s another time saver.
Tip #3: Wall calendars are awesome.
In addition to the spreadsheet, a large wall calendar is helpful to put in important due dates, schedule study time, and integrate your work and life events onto the schedule. Color coding helps as well. We have a great chalkboard calendar that has been great (and it’s pretty too). Click here for a link to one on Amazon that is similar to the one we have, only better because it is magnetic. I forget where we bought ours, but it’s not magnetic.
Tip #4: Don’t binge watch TV shows during the semester – in other words, prioritize.
This seems like common sense, but I’m an expert procrastinator. I know from experience that binge watching every season of VEEP will put you far behind in your homework. Homework first. Game of Thrones will still be there between semesters. I promise.
Tip #5: Read assignment requirements thoroughly and carefully as soon as you get them.
I have dropped a couple of classes whose assignment writing requirements were not something I could (or was willing to) do within the short time allotted. Most were short summer classes with many multiple-page written research assignments and were at a time when I had a very busy non-school schedule. Make sure you can meet the requirements, or don’t take the class. It is better to change to a different class than receive a low grade. When the class is a requirement for your degree, be sure to plan for the amount of time you need to complete it.
And here’s a bonus tip that is not related to time management. Find a friend who is good at editing to check over your papers. There will be a lot of writing in graduate school, and another set of eyes can help ensure your papers are the best they can be.
I hope these time management tips are helpful. Contact me or post in the comments if you have more great time management tips for going back to school.