Thursday, 1 December 2011

The importance of planning

Yesterday, along with lots of other first-year PhDs (including others from my department too), I attended a course all about your first year. The main thing that stuck out for me, which I'm going to talk about here, is the planning.

Now, I plan a lot. I'm somewhat neurotic about lists - especially if there's Crayola colour-coding involved - and I like to know what I'm doing. Due to that, I was pretty sure I had the whole planning thing down. Well, kind of, but there's still a lot to learn young grasshopper.

One of my favourite things I learned about yesterday was the Gantt chart. I'd heard of it before but never really got around to doing one in practice. Having a go at making one for a hypothetical scenario was really interesting and I'm definitely going to get creating for my own work. The concept of putting everything on paper and seeing how everything links to what and what needs to be done first and what can wait was definitely an eye-opener. My internal plan is a good starting point, but not good enough to keep me on track forever. So, it's time to break out the Crayola and make a plan!

Before I go though, one thing I want to emphasise that I've learned through my own experience. You have to plan for time off. I am already seeing some of my fellow students feeling overwhelmed by self-imposed pressures. Remember: it's ok to have some time off doing nothing! It can actually make you more productive when you return to work. So, if you're making a plan too right now, remember to get some fun time in there too. :)

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