How do you plan your day ?

I am presently working as a student intern at NREL, which sadly is coming to an end come January. However, the advantage of working in such a task-driven environment puts you into the mode of “getting stuff done”, sometimes before they’re even due. I’ve always used the run-of-the-mill to-do lists system to manage my day and it worked great insofar as I had my tasks linearly lines up. But, in life in general and in grad school, especially in grad school, things tend to get messier and linearity of tasks becomes too simplistic an assumption to base your daily schedule on. One of the things that messes with my schedule is the (inevitable) reliance on colleagues, professors and sometimes fellow students in task items where you either need feedback, a missing link to a report, syllabus of the class you intend to take etc. Fortunately, the multiplicity of tasks that one has to do in a grad school circumvents this problems of waiting on someone to get back to you with what you need for you to be productive.

I really like bullet journal system. The system is meant for journaling or documenting what happened in the past, keeping track of the future, and organizing the present. However, the system requires too much detail to maintain this storyline and honestly, my story is a mess. I have modified the system to suit my “less detailed” and more straightforward needs. Here’s what I do:

  • Bypassing the index page, I maintain a main list of things which are typically medium to long term under different categories like: (ps: these are made up obviously)
    • academic/professional
      • spring course selection and enrolment
      • research update-final draft and final update due date 26th Dec
      • literature review: on-going
    • financial
      • budgeting from spring
      • insurance and rent money
      • accommodation status check
    • personal
      • Christmas gifts
      • youtube video translation
      • book tickets and cab
    • any other (if necessary)

These basically help me prioritize my time, effort and money all at the same time and I don’t lose sight of things having deadlines or maturity in the future.

  • I then go on to maintain my daily lists where tasks from this main list are broken down into sizeable tasks. For instance: research update and literature review may be on-going tasks with their components broken down.
  • I also maintain a post-it lists for tasks that are beyond these which require control like random blog posts ideas that I get (like this one!) and when I suddenly remember that thing I forgot to include in my groceries list etc.

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There is no one way to keep track of what one does during a day. I have learnt this by trial and error and the system is in no way perfect as I do sometimes have slip-ups here and there. (like forgetting my free 6 month Amazon membership was up and I would be charged without consent for renewal-mainly because I did not document it)

Are there ways that I can improve ? Do you have any daily management methods that you use ? I’d love to know.

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