Having spent the past year working in industry on my placement, starting my final year is a very different experience for me compared to many of my peers. I am very conscious that getting back into the academic frame of mind and refreshing my knowledge on course material will be a challenge. However, I have developed many skills over my placement that I hope to put to good use when organising my workload. Key areas are productivity, organisation and information seeking. During my placement I worked for many different clients at any single point in time, which meant that organisation was key. This is not dissimilar from juggling the various demands of my modules, so this month I have been testing out tools and techniques that could possibly now help me with my studies.
Managing and structuring workload
Over the course of this term I have three assessed presentations and four written pieces of coursework due. Many of these have the same or very close hand in days. This means that I need to set myself a number of sub-deadlines in the run up to the final hand in date to ensure that I am making progress on all pieces of work. To help with this I have been experimenting with a free online project management tool called Podio. I used this at work on a number of projects as it is very flexible, allowing you to build/customise it to suit your needs. To support my coursework planning I have added my assignments as I have been given details about them (many of which I am still waiting for).
I can then refine this down to the various subtasks that I need to complete and set myself deadlines. I can change the view so that I can see what I need to do according to each subject, as a list or in calendar format.
For the day-to-day work that I need to complete such as essential readings and seminar work, I have a section that lists smaller tasks according to priority level.
I am still in the process of setting these up, but I hope that they will help me to be more organised with my work this year. I believe that this will help me to prioritise and manage my workload as in my first and second years I did not have a system.
During my placement I also had to carry out a number of research projects. These often involved qualitative interviews, but there was desk-based research as well. This meant that I was able to develop my Boolean search skills. I hope that this will help me to source more relevant articles for my coursework and speed up the research process.
Over the course of my placement I was able to enhance my wider commercial awareness, something that I would like to continue to develop over my final year. Therefore, in addition to my essential course materials and academic reading, I am trying to find the time to read more business news. Over the summer I changed my social medias newsfeeds into constant streams of subject related content. This means that when I logon I get snippets of current business news from sources such as the Financial Times, the Harvard Business Review and the Economist.
However, I often see interesting articles related to my modules, but often don’t have the time to read them, so I have created tables where I can paste the links according to subject area to read later. I am now using this system for academic reading with my course. Some topics in different modules overlap, so if I read an article for one course that I believe could be useful in another, I will add it to a list which I will tag accordingly.
I hope that these tools and techniques will help me in my studies over the coming year and I will continue to test them and try other ideas to ensure that I am as productive as possible with my time.