Program Insights

Time Worksheet for Your EdD Program

By The Room 241 Team January 13, 2020

Earning your doctorate of education can be a life-changing experience, in more ways than one. Taking control of your educational requirements and planning your time effectively is an important step for your next three years.

Take the time to manage your doctoral studies by following some simple time management and scheduling steps. 

Take a look at your current schedule

There are only so many hours in a day. To begin your journey into scheduling success, it would be valuable to spend two to three days tracking how you spend your time. It doesn’t matter how you track, but paying attention to your time and how much of it is devoted to your daily activities is beneficial.

The goal is to identify your schedule and find new ways to incorporate your future time commitments and meet your goals. 

Honestly track your time

Be honest about the important and less important activities that fill your day. While anyone can be sidetracked through the day, doing so regularly can hinder your ability to meet deadlines and stay on top of your educational goals.

Track your time spent throughout the day. Be specific. Jot down each activity and the time it takes to complete it. Include travel time, breaks, occasional interruptions, and daily commitments. At the end of the two or three days, you should have a comprehensive list detailing the most recent hours and minutes of your life. 

Identify those time wasters

Wasted time can suck productivity. Identify those moments when your time isn’t being used productively and try to make sense of why.

Are you wasting time because of:

  • Lack of planning: Researchers have found that people tend to overestimate the time commitment to complete short tasks, but underestimate how long larger projects may take. If tasks take too long, or you find that you don’t have enough time to complete them, you may need to reassess your schedule and the time you’ve dedicated to your activities. 
  • Overcommitment: Saying no can be a struggle. Identify those tasks that are most important to your goals for your family, career, and education goals, and say NO to any other requests. Prioritize yourself and the goals for your life and regain time.
  • Lack of prioritization: The thought of finishing smaller tasks first often seems like a good idea, but completing those little to-dos like reading and responding to emails can often lead to wasted time and take focus away from larger tasks. Prioritize the larger, most important things to be completed when your mind is fresh. 
  • Unproductive activities: Unfortunately, spending time binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix or scouring social media for what’s happening now can drain valuable time away from your goals. Maintaining your path toward achieving your goals will require you to take these precious moments back and devote them to more productive activities. 

Set SMART goals

Now that you’ve assessed your usual schedule, it’s time to take what you’ve learned and start planning your new one. The best time management wisely devotes your time to activities and tasks will that help you reach your goals. So what are those goals?

Having clear objectives will make your planning easier and help you arrive at success seamlessly. Use SMART goal planning to create actionable, clear goals.

  • Specific – Exactly what is it you want to achieve?
  • Measurable – How will you know you have achieved it?
  • Achievable – Do your objectives agree with your course of action? Do you have the power or control over achieving it? 
  • Realistic – Can your objectives be achieved given the time and resources available to you?
  • Timed – When do you expect to have met each objective?

As your studies progress, you will create multiple smaller goals and possibly find you need to adjust your larger goals. This is normal. But having an initial plan for success is an important element of any new endeavor.

Plan long-term

Beginning your time management through long-term planning can help your work-life balance. Don’t think you need to pack your days with EdD-related activities — time management is also about ensuring you make time for your family and friends. Design a time schedule that is realistic and takes into account your working preferences and your personal life. 

Begin with a semester-length calendar

  • Schedule in all those holidays, vacations, birthdays, school plays, and days off.
  • Fill in your course requirements using syllabi from your professors. 
  • Make note of deadlines for reading, studying, and discussion board requirements.

Add more specification with a weekly calendar

  • Plan out specific days to devote to your studies. 
  • Map out days for reading, writing, discussion board posts, research, any and every task you will need to accomplish your goals. 
  • Reevaluate each week to adjust and refine your system. 

Schedule backward

Once you have your syllabus and the required due dates for major projects, do some forward thinking by scheduling backward. Most of the everyday assignments will be assigned together and it is up to you to schedule the order of their completion. 

  • Fill in the expected due dates for each assignment according to the syllabus.
  • Make note of each individual activity. 
    • For instance, for Friday, the syllabus states you will need to have (1) posted to the discussion board, (2) responded to three coursemate’s discussions and (3) read chapters 2 and 3. 
  • Assess each individual activity and task you will need to complete and decide on the most logical order. 
    • Continuing the example above: In logical order, the last assignment to be done should be responding to others’ discussion, and before that, you should post your own response but before either of those, you will need to have read the chapters. 
  • Working backward from the due date, decide how long each activity will take and when the activity should be started. 
  • Fill in individual activity completion dates. Allow sufficient time for each activity. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to research or draft a paper. Use your present schedule and task evaluation as a guide. 
  • Plan for the unplanned. Life happens. Incorporating a time cushion is extremely beneficial.

Dirt dive your day

Each day, take the time to plan out what needs to be worked on before you climb into bed. Some tasks will need immediate attention and some may be able to be set aside for another day. Address your weekly schedule and reflect on your progress. Be sure that you are on track to meet your goals. 

Plan for your most productive moments

Think about when you are typically the most productive and use that knowledge to your advantage. If you are naturally energetic and eager to work in the morning, set up time to work on your tougher jobs first thing. If you find your mind fuzzy in the afternoon but completely alert during the evening, plan your priority tasks for after dinner. 

Plan smarter, not harder

Research suggests that most people can only focus on highly complex, intellectual tasks for about four hours per day. Make the time count. Eliminate as many distractions as possible. Prepare your workspace with all the materials you will need. Work on your largest, most relevant tasks first.

Work in uninterrupted blocks of 60 to 90 minutes. Once that block of time is done, switch to easier tasks for a quick mental re-energizing. 

Don’t forget those in-between times

With a hectic schedule, every minute counts. Find those in-between times to accomplish tasks. You may be amazed at what you can accomplish in your 20 minutes before dinner. Or that 15-minute break during work. 

Make a notebook your new friend

Being busy, your mind will undoubtedly try to remind you of the tasks you need to do. When you are busy working, taking a moment to answer that email or throw in that load of laundry can get you off-task and interrupt your flow. But no matter how much you try to resist acting on these to-dos, your mind won’t seem to let it go.

Keeping a notebook with you helps you stay focused. Jot down those other tasks as you think of them. You can attack them at another time and not worry about forgetting to get them done. 

Reflect, revise and reward

There is a light at the end of the tunnel but sometimes you need to give yourself small reminders of the progress you are making. You are doing something amazing. And, in the end, the time and energy you spend to reach your goals will be worth it.

  • Reflect: On those days where you are really struggling to stay on task, look back on your beginnings. What goals brought you here? What successes or milestones have you already achieved? Bring yourself back on track by reflecting on why you wanted this in the first place and the smaller successes you’ve accomplished.
  • Revise: Are there things going on in your personal life that you need to address? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Have you not risen to the standards you first set? Maybe you need to address your schedule differently. Plan some time for yourself. Reorganize your personal deadlines. Having a successful plan is a plan you can stick to. 
  • Reward: Find those moments to celebrate! You are working hard and giving up some things so you have time for others. Reward your dedication in small ways. Take an afternoon to read something for pure enjoyment. Go to dinner with your family. Take some time for yourself. Pay attention to your health and well-being then get back to work. 

Time worksheet

Planning your time is too important to ignore. Use this guide to help plan out your EdD studies.

Concordia University-Portland’s doctorate of education program requires 59 credit hours, divided into three years of study. Each year contains three semesters. Each 16-week semester is divided into two sessions, eight weeks apiece.

For the first year of study, candidates will concentrate on two courses for each session: a 0.5 credit course in scholarly writing from the scholarly writing sequence and a three-credit core or concentration course. 

Year two’s sessions include continued courses in your concentration and scholarly writing, as well as the first session devoted to your dissertation. 

Your final year in the program is much more self-directed in the development, approval, and publication of your dissertation. 

Take the time to do some preliminary planning to keep yourself on track and organized toward reaching your goals.  

Long-term at a glance

Each session at a glance

Plan a project breakdown

The week at a glance

Your time is too valuable to waste

Scheduling your time will help to ensure you get the most out of every day. You’ll be able to spend time with your family and friends, stay focused on your career, and accomplish your coursework without unnecessary stress.

Earning your doctorate of education is an important step to reaching your future goals. Start it off right by scheduling wisely.

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