How I manage my time effectly and productively

Last year, I decided to use my blog as a sort of diary to assess different points of my life, like professional career which was my PhD at the time, personal growth, self-care and social life. I started from January and I continued up until the end of my PhD. It was a very therapeutic thing because it made me reflect on my progress and how to improve myself every day and becoming a better person than the day before.

I never understood the value of doing it and how beneficial that way of thinking became to my life. Assessing your progress should be #1 skill to become an adult and take ownership of your life and job. My criteria to assess progress were simple questions:

  • Do I feel happy about this?
  • Did I receive positive feedback from someone that knows a thing or two more that I do?
  • Do I have a sense of fulfilment about this particular aspect of my professional or personal life?
  • Did I make someone else happy with my actions?

This is a personal process and I understand that people have different criteria to assess their life and measure success. So I am far from giving anyone advice on the way they should live their life. My point is that, once you define your goals you should also need to define some criteria to measure whether you’re moving in the right direction.

Assessing your progress is #1 skill to become an adult and take ownership of your life and job.

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This year was also very challenging because I had loads of important decisions to make and commitments to fulfil. I believe the best piece of commitment I had was finishing my labwork and submit my PhD thesis. I was under a lot of pressure, mostly because I had a strict deadline and on top of that I started struggling financially. I had to step up with my time management skills, I had to make loads of financial planning and most importantly I had to make sure that my physical and mental wellbeing was on track too. Many of you know how much I struggle with anxiety and depression, so going back to that poor mental state wasn’t just an option!

I developed a successful strategy to make sure that I delivered a project and completed my task on time without burning out.

I had to make sure that my physical and mental wellbeing was on track too.

First of all, I decided to establish priorities. My personal strategy is to pick 3 things and focus of those for the time being, like the 3 most important and urgent things to do in a day, in a week or a month. For example, while I was writing my thesis the top #1 priority was submitting it on time. So for the whole summer, I decided to focus on writing up, going to the gym 3 times a week and doing a bit of Instagram. So, on top of the urgent commitment, I decided to add 2 more things that made me happy, like creating content for Instagram page and making sure that my wellbeing was okay during such a stressful time.

Great learning lesson for me was asking for help and delegating tasks. That was something new because I am a control freak and live by the mantra “None knows better than me!”. I had created an Instagram page called Women Transforming Science, which I was super proud of and didn’t want to leave behind. So, I asked people in my Instagram network if they were happy to take over the page and curate it for me. Fast forward, I don’t run the page anymore. Every week, I ask people if they want to run it and talk about their experience of being women in science.

If you never ask for help, the answer will always be no!

Finally and most importantly, part of assessing your progress and evaluating your performances means that, at some point, you need to make hard decisions and give up and things that no longer serve your purpose. As a rule of tump you should spend 20-30% of your time in the things that give you 80% of return. We all have the same amount of time in a day as Beyonce (cit from Brianne Martin, founder of
The People Engineer ™) so, you need to use it effectively and productively. I had an Etsy shop, which I loved but wasn’t making me any more money. Very painfully, I decided to shut it down because I was investing my time and energy in something that was no longer productive. Part of this reflection ended up in restructuring my social media pages and delete Twitter, Facebook and don’t do science communication anymore. I applied the same principle there, I don’t want to invest time in something that no longer serves a purpose and was getting to the point where my mental health was compromised.

You should spend 20-30% of your time in the things that give you 80% of return.

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Hope you enjoyed this and see you next month!