Time Management Tips for Grad Students

Discover effective time management skills and graduate student loan tips

From extensive graduate school courses to full-time residencies and law school fellowships, balancing school and life can be challenging when you're working to achieve a graduate or professional degree. Whether you currently work full time, have a family or are transitioning from undergraduate to graduate school, use our effective time management tips below to not only survive, but thrive in grad school. Then, consider a private graduate student loan from Citizens Bank to help make accomplishing a higher level of academic success a reality.

Use a personal planning app on your smartphone

Taking the kids to practice during residency, working extra hours as an intern or finding a part-time job to earn cash on the side while completing your degree - the busy nature of everyday life can make weekdays a bit chaotic and it can be difficult to stay on task. Organizing your schedule each week will play a key role in helping you manage your time. Find a calendar or personal planning app you like so that your schedule is with you on-the-go. Detail out key deadlines and due dates, work hours, family events and more. As a way to differentiate events, consider color coding each entry by group type so you can quickly determine what you have going on for each activity you're involved with. In order for this time management tip to be effective for students, however, it's important your calendar be updated and referenced consistently. If you struggle to check your calendar even after it's populated, consider scheduling automatic alerts to notify you of upcoming meetings or events.

Set expectations

Receiving a degree in higher education can be a challenging feat. Effective time management skills are crucial in being successful, but it's also important that you establish clear expectations and goals for yourself. If you're working part time or starting a family, it may be more difficult to dedicate the same amount of time and energy to your studies as you did in an undergrad program. While passing grad school classes is crucial, higher education and professional programs are more about the information you learn and retain. Set expectations for yourself and with your family, friends and employer. Decide whether you will be a full-time or part-time student, how many classes you will take each semester and how many hours a week you will need to dedicate to research, studying and more. Taking a look at your financial situation can also help you determine the best route you should take. Many people choose to spread out the coursework over multiple years, and then consolidate student loans from undergrad and grad school when they've completed their education. Communicate the commitment you are making to your employer and family, and try not to get discouraged if timing doesn't go as initially planned.

Block off time and space to devote to each task

It's been said that there is never enough time in the day. As you are completing your graduate courses, you may find that to be especially true. To get full use of the time you do have, block off specific times of the day to dedicate to your studies and minimize any and all distractions that may be preventing you from completing your work. Consider designating study spaces around campus devoted to specific tasks - whether it's the library, the coffee shop, outside your professor's office, in your dorm's lobby or some combination of these. Find where you feel most productive and comfortable. Try to work in set chunks of time with designated breaks away from your study space so you can relax and recharge.

Communicate with those around you to clearly delineate when you will be making yourself unavailable and devoting time to your studies. But don't just set aside time for work. Dedicating time to spend with friends, family, or just yourself at the gym is also important. It will make all that hard work a little bit easier when you have uninterrupted time with loved ones later. And don't forget to set aside time to sleep! Undergrad and graduate students have a tendency to stay up late and cram - and if that's the time you work best, that's OK - just try to schedule classes later in the morning so you still get a full seven or eight hours to recharge your batteries.

Use tools to help you track time and eliminate distractions

You can even find online tools that will help you track your time and restrict your access to your most-frequented time-wasting sites. For example, Time Tracker is a browser plugin you can use to tell you how much time you are spending on each site you visit throughout the day. Then, there are other plugins you can download and set to block sites for certain periods of the day - maybe when you're the most productive or most tempted to find distractions online. You can also use a tool called Toggl to keep track of how long it takes to you to complete all your tasks so you can create a more accurate schedule. You can use it on your computer and smartphone and the data will sync together, then you can export it into a report as needed.

Consider graduate school loans with Citizens Bank to help with your education needs

Whether you just received your acceptance letter or are starting your second year of grad school, your studies put a strain on your busy schedule. But our time management tips for students can help make each semester a success.

The cost of tuition can also be a big financial undertaking, but you can find ways to mitigate the stress. Review the amount of debt you currently carry and take advantage of federal aid, fellowships and scholarships if applicable. Then, speak with an education finance specialist about student borrowing options whether you're applying to grad school, law school or med school.

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