Generic PhD planning advice

Generic PhD planning advice

This document contains generic planning advice, as applied to a phd project

Determine the goals

Write down your research question

This is the what

Is this a part of a bigger project? How?

This can yield extra information about priorities and deadlines

Explain the why, why is this research interesting?

Your planning will be the how

Split the process of answering the question into large subgoals (taking quartiles or larger)

These may be inter-dependent, serial or parallel

Figure out what order to solve these in, with Eisenhower matrix (Urgent vs Important)

This will be your overall planning

Figure out the requirements for these subgoals

Making a draft table of contents for your thesis may help with determining subprojects

A list of publications can also work

Include deadlines early

These help prioritize

optional: build a Prerequisite Tree

Contains conditions that need to be met for goals to be achieved

Also called project breakdown

Make a list of conditions, and order them into an acyclic directed graph

Work out your 1-year plan in more detail

For instance: monthly priority lists in a Gantt-like chart

Leave a large fraction of your time empty to accomodate change and counter underplanning (~30%)

List all the deadlines you have

Plan workshops and conferences in advance

some may have long waiting lists or early submission deadlines

Every 3 months, create a new quarterly planning

A month before the start of that quarter

At least weekly resolution

Use only 40% of your time budget to counter underplanning

Include mandatory time sinks like teaching and conferences, as %

Plan enough feedback moments

Assess the risks involved with this planning

List 5, in order of probability * impact

Think of measures to minimize damage should these events occur

Update your yearly planning as well

Create a weekly planning

Set a time for your weekly review (google GTD) and plan your next week

Friday afternoon is a good suggestion

Then you can review the accuracy of your plan for the previous week

Use the Eisenhower matrix!

Include time for 20% projects

Plan uninterrupted working time

You can plan the entire day more fully (~70%)

Review your daily planning each morning (5 minutes)

If necessary adjust your weekly planning to events

``Eat the frog'' - Tackle the thing you don't want to do first

Before you lose your mental energy

You can review email now, for urgent things, or plan it in later