SMALL SUCCESSES

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(Tips from a Graduate Student Survival Guide)

My undergraduate Microbiology professor recently sent me a Science article entitled “A grad school survival guide.” The author, University of Colorado post-doc Andrew Gaudet, created a practical tutorial to help students navigate through the wonderful, hectic, challenging, and even tedious world of the graduate school. My favorite tip: “Start with the task you are least excited about, and do it right away.”

I don’t like to think of myself as a procrastinator; I make lists of things that need to get done; I set (mostly!) reasonable deadlines; I even keep a detailed calendar. But I struggle with starting the tasks. If I need to write a report, I first check my e-mail accounts, Facebook, weather station, and read a NY Times article (I need to stay up-to-date with my world, right?!). And before stopping by the lab, I obviously need to make a sandwich and check my laptop (see above). Now preparation is essential, but when preparation becomes procrastination any momentum grinds to a halt. Gaudet suggests tackling short-term tasks early in the morning, before checking e-mail or any procrastination-enforcing habit. Although I still check my e-mail fairly early, I’ve limited web-surfing until I’ve accomplished some of my daily tasks. And this new approach works for me! As Gaudet concludes, “Along the route to a Ph.D., rough seas can be navigated or avoided entirely. It takes many small successes, achieved day by day, to reach your long-term goals. So stay focused.”

Thanks for the good advice Andrew! And best luck in your research at UC!

Sources + Additional Information:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6228/1386.full.pdf

(Thanks for sharing RZ!)

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