The Graduate School

Managing Your Time

You will generally be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration, and you will not normally be allowed more than four years in which to submit your thesis. With more independence and less structure than a taught degree, successful and timely completion of a research degree requires effective time management. Effective time management does not require you to work longer hours, but rather to use your time more efficiently. To assess your time management skills, it is useful to begin by reflecting on how you generally manage your time, where you lose time and what activities prevent you from achieving your objectives.

Reasons for Poor Time Management

Reasons for poor time management include:

  • lack of objectives and deadlines
  • poor organisation
  • poor communication
  • lack of information or clarity about the task in hand
  • procrastination
  • never finishing tasks
  • lack of self-discipline
  • an unforeseen event or difficulty juggling multiple commitments/tasks

Improving Time Management

There are numerous ways in which you can improve your time management:

  • develop clear objectives
  • devise a project plan, including clear milestones and deadlines and stick to them
  • classify tasks by urgency and importance, prioritising the most important and/or urgent
  • use a diary and schedule key activities, including research seminars
  • focus on one thing at a time
  • review an activity before you leave it
  • reward yourself upon completion of tasks

Temporary Withdrawals from Research

Due to unforeseen circumstances, some students may need to take time off from their research. Students can apply to withdraw temporarily from their programme of study, subject to consultation with their supervisory team and pending the approval of the School Postgraduate Research Committee.  (Note that a period of less than four weeks does not constitute a temporary withdrawal). For further information on temporary withdrawals please consult  the University’s PGR Regulations.

Sources of Help

Advice on effective time management and on similar problems common to researchers can be found on the following websites: