The posting below, as the title suggests gives some nice tips on time management and the writing of e-mails. It is from the Navigating Graduate School section of the November, 2010 issue of the online publication Graduate Connections Newsletter [http://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/current/dev/newsletter/] , pp 1-2, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is published by the Office of Graduate Studies. ©2010 Graduate Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted with permission.
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Tips on Time Management and Writing E-mails
IN GRADUATE STUDY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), Gregory Colon Semenza notes that "poor time management and inadequate organization skills" often create the major barrier to a successful graduate school experience. To help you manage your time and your work materials, we've summarized some of his suggestions.
DATE BOOKS may be out of date (or style) but...it's important to have something that will help you keep track of your appointments and deadlines. Here's a great tip: create a one- page weekly TO-DO listing of your deadlines, appointments and tasks, and post it somewhere that's easily accessible.
USE YOUR COMPUTER AS AN ORGANIZATIONAL TOOL. Create a folder for each area of your work: research, teaching, coursework and your academic portfolio. In your research folder, begin developing your list of references and keep copies of any papers you've written for any seminar you've taken. Bookmark important websites and electronic databases like Academic Search Premier available on the UNL Libraries resources page. In your teaching folder, keep copies of your syllabi and lesson plans for every course you teach. Begin developing your teaching statement and save each draft (you never know when you'll want to return to an earlier version). Save future job search materials like your CV and other documentation materials in your academic portfolio folder. The time you put into organizing these materials now will save you a great deal of time later.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE. As much as possible try to follow a regular daily schedule so that by the time you are ready to write your dissertation your work habits will be well established. Doing so will allow you to coordinate your activities with those of your adviser, graduate colleagues, and family and friends, and will alleviate the feeling that someone is always demanding your time.
PRIORITIZE. PRIORITIZE. PRIORITIZE. In graduate school, you need to be very protective of your research and writing time. It doesn't matter when you set aside time to write or plan your next teaching lecture. It DOES matter that you recognize that these tasks are more important than some of your other tasks, like checking e-mail. Save the more mundane tasks for low energy times. If you're a doctoral or master's student who is expected to complete a thesis, spend the bulk of your day on research-related activities. And learn to say "no" - to friends, family, maybe even your graduate adviserJ. Managing your time in one area of your professional life will help you do it in other areas, too.
Having said that, BE REASONABLE ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO AND WHEN. If you have to work at night or on weekends, try to choose a time that minimizes disruptions of your personal and family time.
USE HOLIDAY BREAKS TO FOCUS ON RESEARCH. Stay near the university during the summer. If you stay on campus and spend time on your research and writing, you'll have a much better chance of finishing in a timely manner.
MAINTAIN SOME SORT OF DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY during graduate school. Exercise can help you structure your day and release stress, contributes to greater confidence, keeps you healthy and clears a space in your mind for those "aha" moments that help you break through barriers in your thinking. Hobbies are good, too. Go to a UNL basketball game. Attend a show at the Lied Center. Learn to knit (yes, there are health benefits to knitting). Like people who exercise regularly, people who take time to enjoy their favorite hobbies tend to experience less stress.
BEGIN WORKING ON YOUR CURRICULUM VITAE NOW. By building your vita early in your graduate career, you'll be able to track your accomplishments while noting the gaps in your experience.
FIVE QUICK TIPS FOR WRITING EFFECTIVE E-MAILS
E-MAIL IS AN INCREASINGLY PREFERRED TOOL FOR COMMUNICATION between students and faculty. When communicating with your professors via e-mail, it's important to remember that many faculty view an e-mail message as a letter that was delivered quickly rather than a quick conversation. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing e-mail messages to your professors.
USE APPROPRIATE SALUTATIONS AND TITLES.
Like letters, e-mails should begin with a proper salutation. If "Dear Dr. Smith" seems too formal, begin your message with "Hello Dr. Smith," but avoid the kinds of casual greetings you would use with friends (e.g., "Hey") or no greeting at all. When in doubt about using Dr. or the professor's first name, use Dr.; the faculty member will let you know when it's okay to use his or her first name.
Faculty interact with a large number of students every semester. At the beginning of your message, refer to the class you're taking with the faculty member or how the faculty member knows you, especially when you're contacting someone who doesn't know you very well. Conclude your message with more than just your first name. Provide your full name and NUID number.
AVOID TEXT ACRONYMS.
If you're responding to e-mails on a Blackberry or smart phone, it's tempting to abbreviate or shorten words and phrases (e.g., u instead of you). However, abbreviations are easy to misinterpret or may be completely misunderstood.
BEWARE OF YOUR TONE.
Perhaps the most difficult part of writing an e-mail is achieving the right tone. If you're writing an especially sensitive e-mail, let your final draft sit overnight and reread it before sending to make sure the message is appropriate. You also can ask a colleague or friend to read your message and offer feedback about how the message might be perceived. Remember, e-mail creates a permanent record of your communication that you have no control over after you click the send button. So if you're worried about the tone of your e-mail, you might want to skip the message altogether and ask for a meeting with the faculty member.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Long e-mails with too many questions can get confusing. If your message is more than one or two paragraphs, rethink the purpose of the message. You may want to start with the most important question or topic. A lengthy e-mail may be a signal that the subject warrants a meeting rather than a written communication.
E-mail communication is an important part of building positive relationships with your professors. It's always worthwhile to take the time to make sure your messages are clear and appropriate.
Jerz, D. & Bauer, J. (2000, December 12). Writing effective e- mail: Top 10 tips. Retrieved October 7, 2010 from http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/etext/e-mail.htm#message.
Toth, E. (2009, April 28). Don't e-mail me this way. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from http://chronicle.com/article/Dont-E-Mail-Me-This- Way/44818/.