I began a PhD programme soon after finishing my MA course at Warwick University. Once I started my new degree, I realized that there were some significant differences between my life as a taught MA student and the PhD. One of the main differences was that I started working in a part-time job as I was completing my MA. This meant that I had to study and work at the same time. The second difference was the independent-mindedness required to do a PhD when compared with a taught MA.

Considering these two differences, I realized that time management requires more and more attention! As a result, I started trying out various time management techniques for a couple of months. I wanted to see which best suits my current situation. After considering all the strategies that I had learned from my past study experience, I came up with a plan. This plan had once helped me to achieve a very satisfying result in a national exam I had to sit to secure a place at a top university. In preparing for this exam, I had to study so many texts over a six-month period. I worked part-time as well, and was in need of an effective plan to manage my time well. It was during this period that I became familiar with a time management technique that I would later call the ‘SUCCESS’ plan!

What is the ‘SUCCESS’ plan?

With a little tweaking and adaptation, I came up with a 7-week plan called ‘SUCCESS’. This helps you monitor your progress in completing tasks that you need to carry out on a weekly basis. At the end of week 7, you can then reflect on the whole plan and improve it according to your personal style. Each letter in the word ‘SUCCESS’ represents one week with an inspiring sentence starting with that letter. For example, the motto for the first week is ‘See your Goal’.

The ‘SUCCESS’ plan Components

The ‘SUCCESS’ plan consists of 4 parts:

1. Week motto: Each week starts with a motto.
2. Week Date: You then have the week and the date part which you need to fill. So, if you plan to start using this weekly planner at the beginning of May, week 1 can be from 4th to the 10th. (It is up to you whether to include the weekend or not)
3. Time Plan: The third part of the plan is the main time plan.
4. Reflection: This is in three parts. They are: positive points, points to reconsider and suggestions for improvement.

To create your own success plan, you need to take the following steps:

1.Create a list of tasks

2. Prioritise your main tasks and put them in the table accordingly

3. Set a time target for each main task

4. Keep a record of your performance on each day

5. Report on your overall performance in the achievement section

6. Consider other tasks and distractions

7. Reflect on your plan at the weekend

I will go into these in more details tomorrow on the blog. In the meantime, do send me an email if you’d like a copy of a ready-made Success Planner – S.S.Haghi@warwick.ac.uk.

This post is written by Ide Haghi for the PhD Life Blog.

Photo: Chris Florence/Creative Commons