Steps You Can Take

Make a Daily and/or Weekly Work Schedule

Keeping a regular schedule can help you ensure you’ve made time for all your professional commitments, and is also a useful tool for maintaining work-life balance. Consider working on big projects (like a dissertation) in small, daily increments. You might wish to experiment with methods like the Pomodoro Technique. For more on scheduling, see “Academic Scientists at Work: Where’d My Day Go?” Science (2004), “The Trick to Being a Prolific Scholar,” Chronicle Vitae (2014), and “How to Make Time for Research and Writing,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2017).

The National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (for which graduate students have access to Berkeley’s institutional membership) offers a variety of resources to help with time management, such as the “Every Semester Needs a Plan,” “Mastering Academic Time Management,” and “Align Your Time with Your Priorities” webinars.

Learn Strategies for Working Efficiently on Teaching and Research

Learning to work efficiently on various commitments is an important skill for a variety of career paths that value multitasking and project management. “Time-boxing” methods like the Pomodoro Technique can help delineate the amount of time you spend on certain tasks. There are many free apps and timers designed to facilitate this kind of time management. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center offers a variety of workshops and resources that can help you complete time-consuming teaching tasks both effectively and efficiently. The UC Berkeley Library offers regular workshops on citation tools like RefWorks, Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote, as well as writing tools like Scrivener. These tools can help you save time and organize your thinking when it comes time to write up your research.

Create a Timeline including Academic Progress Deadlines and Professional Development Goals

Developing an individual professional development plan (IDP) can help you think about your long-term goals, and what short-term steps will help you advance in your program and career. There are two free, online career exploration and planning platforms—myIDP for STEM students and ImaginePhD for students in the humanities and social sciences—designed to help you do just that. These tools offer assessments to help you evaluate your values, skills, and interests, suggest career paths based on your assessments, and help you develop an IDP to get where you want to go.

Graduate students at Berkeley who have been advanced to candidacy are also required to complete the annual Doctoral Candidacy Review (DCR), which is designed to help facilitate advising, mentoring, and the timely completion of program benchmarks. An IDP can be a great springboard for proactive conversations with your advisor about the DCR and other career-related topics.

Join a Writing Group

Knowing how to connect with communities that can support you in the writing process is a skill that will serve you well as a new faculty member, or in a variety of careers that involve long-term independent projects. Studies show that writing groups can help you to stay motivated and meet your deadlines.

Some graduate departments organize their own writing groups. The Graduate Writing Center organizes writing groups, workshops, and individual consultations on writing; the Graduate Minority Student Project offers periodic study halls; and the Humanities & Social Sciences Association runs a weekly writing group for graduate students, visiting scholars, lecturers and postdocs. There are also many online academic writing communities, such as the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (for which graduate students have access to Berkeley’s institutional membership) and PhinisheD.

You can also start your own writing group. For resources on this, see “Starting an Effective Dissertation Writing Group,” Stanford University Hume Writing Center and “Making a Writing Group that Works,” Inside Higher Ed (2015).