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Becoming More Productive: 2018 Workshop

This guide provides resources and ideas for optimizing your workflows. It includes notes from the Becoming More Productive workshops presented by graduate students in the Life and Health Sciences.

2018 Workshop

Becoming More Productive: Workflow Strategies for Graduate Students  

November 1, 2018

4pm - 5pm

Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library Training Room, 2101 VLSB




Patrick Kelly

MBA MPH student

Abstract: Patrick was CEO at Conscious Box, a $7.7MM online retail startup that sold natural and organic products. During this time, he developed a framework to prioritize and execute his most important tasks first. Subsequently, as a grad student doing two masters programs, he refined his framework to balance coursework, recruiting, and relationships.

Notes: Patrick talked about using a framework derived from the Urgent/Important matrix, which he prints weekly. It includes all categories of activities, including relationships, play, job searching, etc. He also talked about the importance of defining and writing down your goals and values, both personal and professional. This will help you prioritize tasks. 


Ana Lyons

PhD Candidate in Integrative Biology

Abstract: Ana is a rising 4th year PhD Candidate in Integrative Biology—with a Designated Emphasis in Computational Biology—as well as an NSF GRFP fellow. Covering a range of topics, central to functioning as both a researcher and GSI, Ana will share methods that she uses to: organize her own “semester plans,” keep an electronic lab notebook, keep updated on literature in her field, organize reading material for a qualifying exam, recruit well-matched URAP students, manage URAP students’ schedules, and generate discussion section materials for GSI appointments.

Notes: Ana talked about creating a semester plan that includes SMART goals, and mapping sub-goals onto your calendar with time estimates. The semester planning strategy came from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Her advice on studying for quals was to know what to expect; choose your committee wisely; figure out what time of day/place you study best; be proactive; make templates for reading; go into it with a healthy attitude. She also discussed her teaching pedagogy and how she manages her URAP students and includes them in planning.


Riya Young

Student in Online MPH program

Abstract: Riya juggles life with several part-time jobs, her own business, several volunteer roles, and a family with kids in college and high school.  Riya will share some of her favorite tools and techniques for not just managing data and working with colleagues, but in saving time and staying productive.

Notes: Riya talked about minimizing distractions by turning off Facebook. She also talked about using Google Calendars and email to keep track of her personal life, school, and businesses. She has different email accounts and calendars for personal, businesses, student, family, etc., which helps keep relevant things at the forefront. In addition to keeping separate accounts, she also uses tags to organize emails. She prefers to use Google calendar as a to-do list - if she doesn't get to something, she moves it to another day/time and can add notes. When writing paper she makes an outline and starts with key messages/conclusions. She also uses pen and paper as a complement to technology.