Time Management: A Key to Success

Grad school can be stressful. But there is a trick to success, and it has taken me a semester to get it perfect. I think that a month into my second semester here, I am getting that the key to success is NOT doing all the readings, stressing to understand every last sentence; it’s NOT about editing papers over and over; and it is certainly NOT staying up all night to study for anything. Two words have made my time at MSPP thus far successful: time management.

In the clinical psychology PsyD program good time management is a must, as you are required to balance classes (in your first year, most people take 5!), practicum (first year, its 2 days a week), and other outside obligations (including self-care- see below). At first this may sound intimidating, but never fear with multiple daily planners, wall calendars, and iCal my life has been simplified (and kept in order). Here are some tips that have significantly improved my time management skills:

  • At the beginning of the semester, I like to write all my readings into my daily planner. This way I know what is due each week for each of my classes. This also helps me prioritize my readings, an important step in saving your valuable time. Always read what is most important first, and work down the list.
  • In addition to the readings, I include all major assignments in my daily planner and my wall calendar. Having major assignments listed in two places really helps me keep track of when important things are due. I also try to make a schedule for completing parts of each assignment. Breaking down large papers into component parts reduces the stress induced by important assignments.
  • In my daily planner and my calendar on my phone I include all important meetings I have at MSPP and my practicum; this includes my scheduled weekly meetings with my clients in addition to any advisory meetings I have at MSPP.
  • Finally, I never forget to schedule time for self-care. At MSPP the phrase self-care gets used frequently, mostly because it is extremely important. As stressed out, super busy grad students it is easy to forget that it is important to take care of ourselves (by doing something fun every once in a while!). What is the one thing that makes you most happy and relaxed? Once you figure it out, make time in your schedule to do this activity. Even a little bit of time doing something fun can make it easier to face the busy (yet rewarding) schedules we all face as grad students!


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3 Responses to Time Management: A Key to Success

  1. Hi Lauren!

    You are correct, first years are typically told which courses to take. This is very helpful, as there are many foundational courses that are required by MSPP and APA in order to get your degree. Most first years are at school for two days. One of those days is usually a full day (9-5), when you will take three classes. The second day on campus you take two classes. I know when I first heard that it was possible to fit 5 classes into two days, I was surprised, but it works out pretty well. Most people like only having to come to campus twice a week, and being on campus for extended periods of time makes it easier to get school work done. Moreover, people usually have at least a half an hour break between classes, which is great time for getting food (which is always around MSPP) or just taking a rest. Personally, sue to my practicum schedule I have my schedule spread out over three days, so I take two classes on Monday, one on Wednesday and two on Thursday. I happen to like my schedule like this, even though it means being on campus three days instead of two. Also, I was able to rearrange my schedule and sign up for classes of my choice both first, second, and summer semesters. Although, I was very proactive and approached many different people about my situation.

    In terms of what courses you can expect to take in your first year, most first years take some of the following courses: Developmental, Psychological Assessment, Clinical Interviewing, Statistics, Social Bases of Behavior, History and Systems, Adult Psychopathology, and Child Psychopathology.

    I hope this information helps you in making your decision… If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask…


  2. Lauren says:

    Hi Haneen! Thanks for all the tips about how useful calendars can be. It’s good to know you’ve found something that might help us all in the beginning. I have questions about scheduling. I’m under the impression that first year students are sort of told what classes and at what time to take them. Do you have any insight into what the course schedule is typically like for the 2 days a week that you’re at MSPP for class? How long are the days, etc. Thanks!!

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