Project and time management for PhD success

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I had planned on composing something for present and future PhD students, and how they could go about successfully completing their PhDs while not falling into the typical traps.  I’ll still compose something on my particular experiences, but I came across a fantastic post by another blogger that sums up the core elements for success in a PhD.  You wont be wasting your time, I assure you.  For those that are interested head on over to;

http://neurdiness.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/blurring-the-line-a-collection-of-advice-for-completing-a-phd/

Now on to today’s post!

While wrapping up my PhD it is increasingly obvious that there will be little to no safety net anymore.  I’ve made it this far mostly through consistently working on my projects, keeping my eye on the project goals, and always thinking about my thesis.  From this point on all of my weak points will be exposed.  I’m the first to admit that efficient use of time, and taking detailed notes are problems I have to correct. I may be consistently thinking about my projects, the problems I am encountering, and how to solve those problems, but I am terrible at writing my thoughts down for others to review. I suppose this blog is a first step towards fixing that deficiency.

Fortunately there are many free applications available to assist you in managing your projects and your time.  Presently I’m using a number of applications to accomplish these tasks, to make sure I’m hitting my goals and improving my time use efficiency.

I’m a big fan of simplicity, so for managing my projects I like Project Management Studio.  The interface is very straight forward, reminding me of windows explorer.  Adding new projects, setting goals, and adding important details for the projects requires just a few mouse clicks.

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Freely available at : http://www.projectmanagementstudio.com/

To take down notes of what I’ve done with my time I use Klok. Again, the user interface is very straight forward, and I love the time-table view of what you’ve done with the past week. This means that no matter what you’re doing, from working on your computer, to going to the library, or running a wet-lab experiment you can take notes of it all and see where you’re spending your day.  This is not a web-based program, and while there is a subscription option, Klok is also available for free.  I’m finding the basic, no-subscription Klok is more than enough for me.

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Freely available at: http://www.getklok.com/index.html

To install Klok you’ll need Adobe Air 2.0 already installed.  Both are accessible at Kloks website.

Finally, to validate that I’m not killing my whole day surfing the net, reading news, and watching funny youtube videos I use Rescue Time.  This is a web-based time tracking program that reports what you’re presently doing on your computer and outputs your activity data in graphical format.  I find it’s really effective to use Klok and Rescue Time in combination because there have been days where I’ve input in Klok that I’m writing a chapter of my thesis, and thought I’d spent most of the day writing, but really I’m taking breaks and reading the news far too often. Rescue Time will tell you precisely what you’re doing.  That way you find out really how efficient you are with your time.

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I have been noticing that my internet connection lags occasionally while Rescue Time is active.  This has only been in the last day or so.

Freely available at: https://www.rescuetime.com/

I’ll let you all know how these applications are working for me in the next few months.  If any of you have suggestions let me know.  I’m always interested in new ideas.

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About dylanlevac

I'm a recovering academic, who is transitioning out of research and pursuing opportunities in policy roles regulating plant biotechnology products.
This entry was posted in Success strategies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Project and time management for PhD success

  1. Benjamin says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for your comment about Project Management Studio. It’s really nice to see it helps others. The software is in its first release. So If you encounter a problem with the software (bugs or …), do not hesitate to contact me, I will do my best to improve it.

    Good luck for your thesis!

    Regards,

    Benjamin

    • dylanlevac says:

      Hi Benjamin,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll definitely let you guys know if I hit any snags. After I’ve played with the program for a few more months I’ll have a better idea of any deficiencies. For what I’m doing right now it seems quite sufficient. If you could incorporate some of Klok’s options just to track what you’re doing with your time (or what you think you’re doing) would be nice. That would reduce redundancy on the user end of things.

      All the best,
      Dylan

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