Google Calendar = organizing my life = more guilt free time!

The long hours at the desk just didn’t seem to be adding up to good results. So, what to do? Find an efficient system that would help me organise my duties….Oughterard Pier

Current duties relate to teaching, becoming proficient at blackboard – which will hopefully eventually pay off & mean better experience for students and less teacher time spent on tasks like correcting & organising – and getting my own research work done. It was all proving a bit overwhelming. September, the beginning of the academic year, is always a hectic time so I knew it would somehow get better, but when and in the meantime what could I do about it…and most importantly, how could I ensure that I was getting some quality work done on my PhD research?

It was time to call in the experts. So, who do I know who is organised and who would be willing to help? I remembered having attended a workshop on how to get a PhD thesis written run by a lovely lady called Irina Ruppo Malone at the Academic Writing Centre in NUIG. I decided this was definitely a writing matter – if I couldn’t make the time, then I couldn’t write. Besides, I knew that Irina, being both a supportive and super organised individual, would make time for me. And she did.

My world changed in that one hour. Irina very quickly identified my main weekly tasks and helped me set out a timetable – mornings for ‘main PhD work’ and afternoons divided up into time for reading, time for teaching/preparing for teaching and time for blogging. Even more importantly, I had a great sense of satisfaction at the end of each day. I could see some progress. Where I didn’t reach on something, that was ok, I just moved on and knew when I would have time to return to it. Knowing that I was planning on working on the Saturday, I even treated myself to a half day on Thursday…completely guilt free!

So, how did I get on the second week? Does it really work over a longer period of time? Is it a sustainable practise? The first week went fantastic. I was super organized and super motivated. I wrote a lot the first week. But, one of my old bad habits hadn’t gone away…I didn’t spend time “tidying up” – by which I mean literally tidying my desk, filing articles etc. but also tidying up what I had written during the week, organising it into some kind of structure which I could build on. This lack of organisation has slowed me down a little and left me feeling a bit frustrated.

So, where to next? Well, I’m loving Google calendar. It has definitely left me more organised and I can plan. I know what needs to get done when and how much time I have for it. I work more efficiently within the allocated time. What I now need to work on, however, is getting my own research better organised. Figuring out another calendar for within my “main PhD time”. So, that’s my next task.

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