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Manage your time

Monash, like all Australian universities, now has a requirement for shorter completion times for research degrees. Check the expiry date of your candidature. While this may seem like a long time away, the years may not produce the required thesis unless you become extremely well organised, plan and adhere to the plan.

Good time management is a key to successful completion. It involves long-term (yearly, whole thesis) and short-term (daily, weekly, monthly) planning.

  • Define your objectives: these need to be specific, measurable and set within a time-frame.
  • Define the tasks you need to complete to achieve your objectives.
  • Identify key tasks, set deadlines - and keep to them!
  • Monitor your progress and set new goals. If you don't meet a goal within the time you have set don't be discouraged; this is part of your learning-perhaps the time allotted was unrealistic, or the goal was not specific enough.
  • Build reporting requirements (confirmation report, yearly progress reports) into your task structure.
  • When allotting time, try to envisage possible obstacles/delays (eg. survey distribution, visas for travel, equipment breakdowns or time restrictions).
  • If you confront a delay to candidature (for reasons such as family, health, employment) it may be a good idea to apply for official intermission of candidature to extend the expiry of candidature date.
  • There will be times when you will feel tired or unable to concentrate. Be prepared to use those times for practical tasks, such as filing, record keeping, bibliographic referencing, etc. Never waste time that you've allocated for your project!

Planners and Gantt charts

It is very useful to have this plan in visible form, perhaps above your desk. The Monash Graduate Research School provides a three-year planner on the back of its brochure, Planning Your Doctorate.

A technique used by project managers to show the timelines of project components is the Gantt chart. A Gantt chart for the first year of a PhD might look something like this:

Image of a Gantt chart

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