How to Prioritize Graduate School Deadlines

    Posted on Monday, Nov 20, 2017
    One of the most frustrating aspects of work-overload is not knowing where to begin. When several deadlines are piling up on top of grading and personal issues, valuable time can be wasted just trying to figure out what one ought to do first. A method of prioritizing, even an imperfect method, can be invaluable because it will give you a clear place to start working. Below is a method I have developed that I find useful.
    The basic assumptions behind this method are the following: Priorities ought to be ranked according to the proximity of the deadline, their importance to your future, and the amount of time they will take to complete. I rank proximity of deadline on an eight-point scale from 1 week to more than 7 months. I rank future importance on a four-point scale from very important to very low importance. I rank preparation time on a three-point scale of high, medium, and low.
     
    Proximity of deadline, symbolized t for time: Importance to future, symbolized as f for future: Time necessary to prepare/ complete, symbolized p for prepare:
    1 = within 1 week
    2 = within 2 weeks
    3 = within 3 weeks
    4 = within 4 weeks
    5 = next month
    6 = within 2-4 months
    7 = within 5-6 months
    8 = within 7 months or more
    1 = very important
    2 = important
    3 = low importance
    4 = very low importance
    High = expected to take several days to complete
    Moderate = expected to take several hours to complete
    Low = expected to take two hours or less to complete
     
    Utilizing this prioritizing method is very simple. First make a “to do” list:

    Step 1: Make a “to do” list
    Example:
    1. complete summer internship application,
    2. prepare for meeting with advisor,
    3. grade 30 essays,
    4. write paper for Grad 611,
    5. send invitations to daughter’s birthday party,
    6. get tickets for the Aggie game.
    Step 2: Rank each item in terms of the proximity of the deadline, their importance to your future, and the time they will take to complete.
    Example:
    1. complete summer internship application = t6f2pH
    2. prepare for meeting with advisor = t1f3pL
    3. grade 30 essays = t2f2pH
    4. write paper for Grad 611 = t3f1pH
    5. send invitations to daughter’s birthday party = t2f2pM
    6. get tickets for the Aggie game = t3f4pL
    Step 3: Rearrange your list, ranking all t1’s before t2’s, all t2’s before t3’s and so forth. Within each time ranking, ordering according to future importance and preparation time as well.
    Example:
    1. prepare for meeting with advisor = t1f3pL
    2. grade 30 essays = t2f2pH
    3. send invitations to daughter’s birthday party = t2f2pM
    4. write paper for Grad 611 = t3f1pH
    5. get tickets for the Aggie game = t3f4pL
    6. complete summer internship application = t6f2pH
    Step 4: Get to work!

    Jennifer Ward
    ---
    Jennifer is pursing an M.A. in Communication and a Ph.D. in Philosophy.


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