I developed this template for tracking project goals and managing time commitments that you're welcome to borrow and adapt. These spreadsheets developed over time, but they saved my sanity in graduate school and helped me get tenure after that!
Generally, the logic is that you should have a plan to tenure (or getting your PhD and finding a job) and then work backwards from there for yearly, monthly, and daily goals. I also recommend tracking your time to meet daily/weekly/monthly productivity goals and then giving yourself permission to take nights, weekends, and holidays off (to steal from Tanya Golash-Boza, get a life!). The semester breakdown tab is loosely based on this 5-Year Plan template from The Professor Is In and reflects the advice on goal-setting, time management, and daily writing from the blogs listed over here.
For pre-tenure folks, I also recommend putting together a hypothetical CV around year 3. Include your published work and a medium-optimistic take on what you expect to happen with projects in the pipeline. Then use this imaginary C.V. to help map out the years.
How I use these sheets:
- At the beginning of the year, when my teaching schedule is set, I update the "Semester Break-Down" sheet. At the start of each term, I update my primary research goals for the semester.
- Once a month, I revisit the project list & monthly goals page to update the status of projects and outline priorities for the month.
- With those goals in mind, each Friday afternoon (or Monday morning), I build a weekly schedule, drawing tasks from a master research, teaching, and service to-do list (managed online through workflowy) and my calendar for the week.
- When I start & end of working on each new to-do item, I enter in the time on the Daily Hours Log. (You can also log # of pomodoros instead if that works better for you.) At the end of each week I compile those hours in the Weekly Hours Log.
- At the end of each year, I analyze the Weekly Hours Log to see how my time was spent. This helps to make sure I am spending time in accordance with my priorities. I then create a new spreadsheets for the following year.