If you’ve ever sat through an endless meeting with no agenda then you know how much time can be wasted by lack of direction. Plans help you to identify your priorities and strategize your workflow.
For example, once you know how important it is to have good research summaries you can ensure that you devote time to active note-taking from the start, aware that this initial delay can save weeks of your time down the track.
Use portable technologies to make use of dead time
This way transit time and those short breaks between meetings becomes reading (bus), or even writing time (on a train). If you’re driving you can also play previously downloaded podcasts.
Service offers its own rewards nevertheless when people ask you to do something stall your answer. You can make your interest clear, but express a need to check your calendar first. Give yourself time to think whether you really need to do this. Contribution is no doubt essential to your success on many levels, but also consider whether poorly achieved multi-tasking, or a more focused effort will make you more promotable in the long run?
Use tools to help manage your priorities
Emails can seem urgent. Engaging with them can offer a quick sense of achievement, or completion. This is a low-priority achievement however that can also compromise your ability to achieve more important long-term goals like research and publication. Find tools like to-do lists, calendar reminders, academic support forums to help highlight the priority of those less immediate, but often more important rewards.
Centralize all your information and make sure you have a backup.
Cloud technologies now make this possible so that you don’t have to waste time losing files and searching between devices. Using them, like any upgrade to more efficient, quicker technologies, is highly recommended. Similar tools, such as the laboratory information management system (LIMS) can streamline project data storage for a whole team.
Have three tasks on hand for those days when your to-do list makes you anxious, such as the task of starting a new journal article. If you find yourself procrastinating aim for just 10 minutes on the article, then work on the other tasks so that your time is productive nevertheless. Also be aware that aiming to write anything and improving your ideas over time is more productive than aiming to create perfection from scratch.