Getting Organised: Practical Tools

The summer is the season for organisation. It feels wonderful to have time and space to read and write. I also have been working on implementing strategies (yes this is a war) for the coming chaos of the Autumn term.

I have subscribed to Evernote Premium, which has been great for research diaries, notes and general sanity. I have been using Asana to make lists and track tasks. Equally fabulous. It feels good to know what is going on each day especially when a PhD project is so long.

However, my greatest achievement is the construction of a time management board. not online, not on my phone, in real life. Compared to the other tools above, this took a lot longer to conceptualise and create, but it has sincerely helped me to keep track of time and make sure that I am concentrating on what is important to me.



To make this you will need:

  • foam squares
  • sticky magnets
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • permanent marker (for marking up whiteboard into a grid)
  • a magnetic whiteboard
  • Dymo Tape
  • Maths
  • Time


  • a friend
  • bangin’ tunes
  • a radiator for collecting them as you go



  1. Measure the whiteboard and work out how much time you want to plan. I chose 9am – 11pm as I wanted to cover most of my conscious hours. Let’s face it, before 9am doesn’t really count as consciousness now does it…
  2. Do maths to work out how many squares you need to draw on the whiteboard. This was hard for me, but maybe that is because I study the Humanities. Check it and double check it.
  3. Then you can play with the foam, since you’ll know the size of the pieces. Mine are 5cm by 2.5cm big.
  4. Cut out foam in different colours to make “time / activity” tiles. Choose angry colours for things you hate / HAVE to do. Choose happy colours for nice things. I made my PhD tiles a happy colour as there is going to be a lot of them. Categories can include things like read, chores, meeting, scoial time, PhD, admin, etc. I made two for bath ‘cos a girl can dream.
  5. DYMO time. This is where a friend is good so you don’t get RSI from stamping out thousands of tiny letters. Type out names for the activities and stick them on the foam.
  6. Magnet time. Stick magnets on the back of the tiles. I bought some great self-adhesive ones on Amazon which work really well for me since the foam is not too heavy. I am not sure if it would hold up wooden tiles for example, but with the foam it is supremo.
  7. Collect the tiles together on a radiator (for fun)
  8. It’s hard to know how many tiles to make for each activity, but try to be optimistic / idealistic at first. I went back and had to make more admin tiles, but to start out think about what you want your planner to look like.
  9. Feel glorious everyday and stay conscious of your time.
Close up of tiles
The final board


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: