How busy can one grad bee*? Lessons in time management.

If you’re me, terrifyingly busy. Apparently, too busy to keep up with my blog. Wince.

At Hart House, I have almost finished recruiting new library volunteers, and have done my best to finalize a budget for the Literary and Library Committee. I have hired an assistant curator for the library work, which will be such a relief in a few weeks, when I can finally start delegating some work to her. This week I need to set up an introductory meeting with all the new volunteers, and present/defend the budget to the Hart House Committee on Budgets. I have my professional-inspired outfit all picked out for that (is red okay?) and will be reading up on vision and mission statements for the next few days in order to use the most relevant and persuasive terminology.

The student conference preparation is therefore occupying the back burner of my limited mental stove, which is not so bad but at the same time, not so great. The CFP will be sent out to library schools across North America this weekend. It will. There’s no going back now I’ve published it on the internet.

Schoolwork, you might ask? Oh, that. I have just re-evaluated my position on homework assignments, and have decided to return to my original grad school plan that hinged on professional experience, practical work, networking, and using the extracurricular (as well as curricular) resources offered by the university.

The advantage (there might be more than one, but it would take me a long time to determine what they are) to being so overwhelmed with various activities, is the opportunity to practice time management. Some weeks are obviously better than others, but with more to do, I spend less time procrastinating. Usually. I have also finally clued into the more efficient reading practices, such as skimming, and reading introductions and conclusions. I love articles with sub-headings.

Tools I use to help me stay on track:

1. iCal – I don’t always have my Mac with me, but this is truly the best record of where I have to be and when. The appointments, the classes, the group work, even the dinners with friends and soccer games. Recently, I added it to the list of programs that open when I turn on my Mac, and have noticed a marked increase in usage and usefulness.

2. A Microsoft Excel Calendar Template – a recent addition to my time-management tools, I use it when I have my Dell Netbook with me. Not as user-friendly or complex (in a good, organizational kind of way) as my iCal, it still helps me keep track of the major appointments and deadlines.

3. A Handwritten To-Do List – I know, I know. So last century. But I don’t have a smart phone yet, and I find that I frequently forget to check my calendars, even when they’re so useful. Additionally, this tool focuses not on appointments, meetings, and classes, but on the little things I forget to do. All the time. The emails, the organizational tasks, the getting-back-to-people, et cetera.

4. Google Tasks – This one I use sporadically. For awhile I thought it helped, because I’m almost always signed in to my Google account. However, it has some issues: I have to have internet (again, no smart phone here), and it’s so small, and it doesn’t show everything all at once. Or perhaps I just prefer the handwritten tasks lists.

5. Friends – I have some really valuable friends for time management. Obviously I love them for other reasons, but for a quick question re: weekly class discussion topics and due dates, or specific questions about their perspectives on assignments, they also make really excellent sources.

What do you use? Is there anything I don’t have in my arsenal that I should?

*This is a typo that did actually happen earlier today in a discussion about, what else? work.

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