Hello there bloggies! Welcome to Trainee Tuesday. Today’s topic is one that everyone (students, postdocs, staff, and PIs alike) fails at: managing your time effectively. No matter what you do there are always more things you’d like to accomplish in lab or in life than is possible.

Even though it is difficult and probably impossible to master, there are some things I’ve tried to do to maximize my productivity (I also want to see what others do, particularly as I’m writing this far too late Monday night…):

I find making a list is the most important thing I do. These lists help me gain a more global view of everything I have to accomplish. Plus, writing everything down, whether on a post-it (my choice), phone, or notebook, helps me remember everything that I am responsible f0r. There are far too many instances of trainees (and others!) forgetting projects or things they’ve committed to doing.

When I tell people that I like to make massive to-do lists, they tell me that they immediately get overwhelmed with everything they need to accomplish. You do not need to finish everything on your list right away! Honestly, you will never finish a list. It will shrink, and it will grow. It’s okay! Accept it! Because honestly, having nothing to do on your list would be so boring (or that you lost your job or are out of ideas…).

Now that you’ve made your list and realized you don’t need to finish everything today, you do need to decide what you need to accomplish. Prioritize the items on your list by overall importance and by when things are due. Things that are due in 6 months aren’t necessarily as pressing as your qualifying exam in two weeks or your revision that’s due to Nature. Use this information to make daily or weekly goals to get things finished and/or make substantial progress.

My final tip is to know when you need to take a break. This break could be a 5-10 minute walk around the building, an hour exercise session, a 15-minute coffee break, or even a night out for drinks with friends. We aren’t robots! We can’t go full-on continuously. All nighters and crazy work hours are when mistakes happen and you actually make less progress on your work. A fresh, happy mind is far more productive (as well as more accurate and insightful).

Those are some the things I do to try to manage my time. Everyone is different though. What are some of things you do to effectively manage your time and maximize your productivity? Comment below or on twitter @DrFsThoughts. Thank you all for stopping by!

See you all tomorrow for Wishful Wednesday!

-Dr. F

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