Time Management for Graduate Students

Students who complete graduate programs successfully tend to engage in the following behaviours:

  • They develop a strong professional relationship with their supervisor/advisor. They plan and record the outcome of regular meetings, set goals and thesis 'milestones' with their advisor, and are familiar with the Principles and Guidelines Regarding Graduate Student Supervision available at http://grad.uwo.ca/current_students/supervising_guidelines.htm
  • They continue to work productively even without a rigid structure of external due dates. They are comfortable with setting their own deadlines using some form of 'intentional planning' such as on-line calendars, and create reminder systems for any deadlines they have set.
  • They inform significant others of their long term plans, important due dates and academic responsibilities, and have a clear graduation date in mind.
  • They set clear priorities with thesis completion as a top priority. They limit the amount of time they spend on activities they have designated as having lower priority.
  • They develop strong and varied support networks, and when they feel anxious about progress they seek out advice without delay.
  • They accept that they may not be an 'expert' on all aspects of their role as graduate students, and take action to engage in appropriate professional development (e.g. workshops for TAs offered through Western's Teaching Support Centre).
  • They are resilient! They recognize that they may encounter research setbacks and that an adequate, completed thesis is better than an unfinished thesis that aspired to be perfect.

Graduate students who complete their programs successfully usually avoid the following:

  • Expecting others to set all deadlines and dues dates for them.
  • Failing to set clear boundaries with their supervisor or being unclear of expectations.
  • Spending too much time on activities such as TA work, which in itself will not earn them their degree.
  • 'Hiding out' when research is not progressing as planned.
  • Thinking that they must immediately know how to do everything expected of them, just because they are now in graduate school.

Useful resources

  • Subscribe to GRADUpdATE, Learning Skills Services' twice monthly e-mailout especially for graduate students. To receive, e-mail gradupdate-request@uwo.ca; type the word 'subscribe' as the subject
  • Attend events for graduate students offered by Western's Teaching Support Centre

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Information disclosed by students to SDC's Learning Skills Counsellors is confidential. It will not be shared with family, faculty, staff or others without written consent and will not become part of academic records.

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