The Four-Week Ph.D. Candidacy Exam

Photo by John Newcomb, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54294021

MacLaurin Building, University of Victoria. By John Newcomb, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54294021

On March 16, I successfully completed my candidacy exams. In the curriculum and instruction specialization program, faculty of education, at the University of Victoria, candidates are emailed four questions and must answer two questions within two weeks. The final step is a presentation and oral exam.

Answering two questions doesn’t seem difficult, but each answer must be a 30 to 40 page academic paper, not including references. The first question focuses on the candidate’s area of specialization and is known as the content question. The second question is on methodology.

I prepared meticulously for the exams over the past several months. Integral to the preparation was believing I had successfully passed the exams. I wrote the first two chapters of the research paper and completed a rough draft of the methodology chapter, and even up until the night before my exam began, I was adding to my quote bank.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Being Busy Isn’t the Same as Being Productive

Tracking my time allows me to discover what I waste my time on and ultimately manage my productivity. This is of particularly importance to me as I work on my dissertation. I felt I was working towards my completion goal, but I was actually spending a lot of time “doing” and feeling busy with tasks that worked around my dissertation and not on my dissertation.

Being busy isn’t the same as being productive; therefore, I had to put my energies into finishing my dissertation and not into being busy with my dissertation.

I solved my problem very easily. I track my time, but the time sheet didn’t have enough detail. First, I added more categories to my time sheet so I could accurately track time I spend working about my topic.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Tracking Time Saves Time Revisited

New time sheetAs the end of the year draws near I update, review, and reflect on my many projects. One mini-project (I always have a number of these on the go) is keeping track of my projects. This is done, if you recall, with a time tracking spreadsheet.

The time sheet is now six months old and, yes, I am using it every time I sit down to work on a project.  It serves its purpose well because I review where my time is spent both weekly and monthly.

I believe it has helped me become much more aware of my time and how to spend it more productively. For example, I aim to work seven hours per day for a 35-hour workweek. It does not matter to me if this includes weekends, or if I achieve my goal in four days. I may find that by mid-week I have not averaged enough hours per days to meet my goal if I continue to work at the same pace. This, then, spurs me on to put more hours in for that given week.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Tracking Time Saves Time

Photo by Janet Symmons

Distillery District clock
Toronto, Ontario
Photo by Janet Symmons

Time is something we all wish we had more of, and yet we let so much of it slip away from us.

This became very apparent to me as I made my annual cross-country summer trip. I had time to reflect on my progress towards completing my dissertation. With nine days and nights to reflect, it soon became obvious that my PhD progress was far below my expectations.

I needed a solution to get me back on track.

I needed to know what I spending my time on and quickly saw the similarities between creating a money budget and a time budget.

I felt I was spending hours sitting at my computer, but I was churning out papers quick enough, my lit review had holes in it, one proposal was incomplete, and a job application was also sitting on my desktop. Why couldn’t get all this done?

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it