Deadlines, deadlines

This is a quick post just to encourage you all to have a think about your calendaring and time planning strategies.

One reason to do this is that project management is one of the skills that graduates can be confident of developing, if you have good systems in place. It’s a common question asked in recruitment: how well do you balance competing demands on your time?

The thing is, uni students balance competing demands on their time while dancing on stilts and juggling with knives, so you should expect this to be a strength.

But at this stage you may also be feeling that balancing many things is hard, and that deadlines are a major source of stress for you.

Here are some practical things you can try.

  1. Use an electronic calendaring app that syncs across all your devices, so that you get timely reminders wherever you are (I use Google Calendar*, although I find the app a bit buggy on i-Things)
  2. When you enter things into a calendaring app, take a project management approach: don’t just put in the final deadline, but plan the milestones you’ll need to reach between now and then. Seriously, it helps.
  3. Have a look at “getting things done” (GTD) apps, which are basically just to-do lists with alarms and reminders. There are a whole lot of them out there. I’m currently trying out the Australian app Remember The Milk, because it has a widget that sits alongside Google Calendar.
  4. “Plan for adversity” is a standard of good project management. All it means is that if you have a fixed deadline, set an earlier deadline for yourself and put that in your calendar — that way if you get sick at the last minute, you’ve built in some slack and won’t need to ask for an extension
  5. Develop a weekly habit of sitting with your calendar and your overall to do list, so that you can plan your week ahead.
  6. Don’t feel you have to be tackling every task at once, or you’ll become exhausted with stress, and every minute that you do something else will make you feel guilty and resentful. Plan to complete small sub-tasks so that you know when they’re done, you can appreciate finishing all that you planned to do, and can take time to recover and do other stuff that matters to you.

*Google Calendar works for me because I can share it easily, I can make and combine different calendars (I have different calendars for home, work, and my consultancy, and I can also see my partner’s work calendar), and it’s quick to set up a project management calendar for a specific task — this could be really good for you if you’re working on group projects.

And a note of encouragement if you’re worried about keeping up with weekly blogging task. Look at your calendar, find a regular couple of times in the week that you can write, then make your blogging fit in that time. Don’t overthink it, and don’t panic.

If any of you have good time management apps or platforms to recommend, I’d love to know about them.



2 thoughts on “Deadlines, deadlines

  1. I used to depend on the Time Management app Timeful, which handled your points 2 & 4 on its own. It automatically set up milestones and gave you a choice of what tasks you could do now and when you could do them later. It revealed to me that the key to task management is about forming good habits. Managing multiple projects is still hard but I can vouch for your management points. Timeful has been purchased by Google so expect to see some of its great features implemented in you Calendar soon Kate.


    • This is such an important point, Paul — the key really is to form habits of doing the stuff you want to get done. Otherwise engaging with a time budgeting system can really become an exercise in procrastination as you fiddle around getting your to do list perfect, but don’t end up actually doing anything. I’ll look at Timeful, thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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