PLANNING AND COOPERATION

PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME AND MAKE THE BEST OUT OF WORKING TOGETHER

As a student, you will do well to think about how you use the limited time you have available. To work effectively and create synergy, it is important that you acquire some good collaborative habits and learn how to utilise the resources of your study group or team.

It is also important that you achieve a good work-life balance, which will allow you to recharge your batteries.

Effective planning

How am I going to make time?

A study plan is a good way to create an overview of your study, your deadlines and your work efforts. The study plan may be a long-term or short-term plan. Ideally, it must give you an overview of what you need to do every day, how much time you need for each assignment - and when you can take time off from your studies. A study plan works wonders during project work.

Tips and tricks for the study plan:

Action-oriented. Be precise about what you need to do and state where and how, instead of using general terms like “study reading” or “preparation time”.

Chunking. Break your assignment into small chunks. This will give you a better idea of how much time is required.

Precise time specification. Set aside a reasonable amount of time to avoid spending too much time on a particular assignment.

Use Google Calendar. A simple, free of charge calendar to gain an overview through the use of colour coding, for instance, for various types of activities, etc. 

Hacks for workflow optimisation:

The 2-minute rule - if a thing on your to-do list can be done in two minutes or less, then have done with it!

Take advantage of your flow - complete the assignment if you feel you are on a roll. 
Assignment break-down - this will make it easier to plan and take a comprehensive view.

Deal with the tedious assignment first - it may motivate you to get the worst part over and done with first. 

Work more effectively with the Pomodoro method
The Pomodoro method is a tool to help you better structure your time when studying. The basic principle is about dividing your work into intervals with breaks, and clarifying exactly what the task at hand entails. There are a lot of different variations and apps you can use, but the original version has these six steps:

1.     Decide what task to work on

2.     Set a timer for 25 minutes

3.     Work on the task

4.     When the time is up, make a mark on a piece of paper.

5.     If you have fewer than four marks, take a short break (around five minutes) and go to bullet 2.

6.     If you have four marks take a longer break (around twenty minutes), erase your marks and go back to bullet 1.

"Use a study plan to create an overview"

"Use “hacks” such as the 2-minute rule"

COORDINATION

How do I plan together with others?

Collaboration is a crucial skill, whether you are self-employed, a student or an employee.

There is no “right” way of doing it, and as you get more experienced, you will find out what suits you and when one or the other working method works best. The most important thing is on-going communication, so that you avoid misunderstandings, duplication of work and a waste of valuable time. Here are some useful tips: 

Set goals for the day together  
Discuss what must be done during the day and follow up at the end of the day.

Schedule your activities
Agree to meet on fixed days. This way you can plan ahead.

Arrange your assignments in order of priority 
You must agree on what is important.

There are lots of online collaboration tools that may help facilitate your workflow:

Trello is ideal for small projects. It is based on Kanban, which means that all assignments are broken down and described on small paper patches or “Kanbans”. Then, the project work goes through different phases (for example, “To do”, “Doing”, “Done”). The point is that you always have a visual overview of how far you are with all parts of the project. 

Asana is a visual planning tool particularly useful for large projects.

Finally, you may also take advantage of tools you already know, such as Google docs, Dropbox, Facebook, etc. for the sharing of files and planning of your collaboration.

"Communicate clearly and set up a clear framework"

"Use planning tools in your workflow"

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

How do I prioritise my time?

What is a good work-life balance differs from person to person. You may well think that a 50-hour working week is fine, whereas your boyfriend/girlfriend or fellow student may start to feel uncomfortable when they work 30 hours a week. However, it is not just about how much time you put in. It also has to do with how you spend your time. Some people are perfectionists. They have difficulty letting go of a project before they are completely satisfied - even if it is at the cost of sleep, family life or hobbies.

You may feel comfortable “giving it your best” for shorter periods, but in the long term, all people need to relax and find a good balance between work and leisure. For some, it is a good idea to “pull the plug” and turn off their phone, computer, etc. Others may be in need of physical exercises, a cup of coffee with friends or meditation.

If you find it difficult to strike the right balance, here are some tips: 

Make a priority plan for leisure and working life.

Take breaks, and do not study when you are off.

Reward yourself! Go for a walk, eat a cake or call a friend.

Vary your working day with demanding and less demanding assignments.

Turn off your phone and social media.

Do not be afraid to ask for help.

You may also make use of various tools such as The Eisenhower model, which helps you prioritise and create an overview of your tasks. Click here to learn how. 

"Make a priority plan for leisure and working life"

"Take breaks and do not study when you are off"

"Find out what it is that fills you with energy in your everyday life"

GROUP WORK

HOW DO WE GAIN THE MOST FROM GROUP WORK?

Before you join a group, it is important that you consider which skills you have and what you can contribute to the group. You may be good at planning, have a good overview or have an eye for wacky ideas. Either way, it is important that everyone in the new group makes out each other's strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a say on the composition of the group, be careful not only to choose members you socialise with. The professional match is also important for the group work and the final result. Find out if you share the same professional ambitions and expectations for the collaboration. Make sure to match expectations before you start working together. In other words, agree on the group work rules: How often will you meet? Are you pursuing a specific grade? How much time can be spent on leisure activities? When is the best time to work during the day, etc. 

"Be aware of your own skills and those of the other group members"

"Match your expectations within the group"

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

HOW DO WE SOLVE POTENTIAL GROUP CONFLICTS?

Disagreements and conflicts can occur when working together as a group. Therefore, it is important that you know how to best prevent and deal with conflicts so that they do not get out of control. A joint plan of action and rules may help you tackle future disagreements.

Please note that there is a difference between professional and personal disagreements. It is important to keep them separate. In case of professional disagreement that cannot be resolved, it is a good idea to address the teacher. In case of more personal issues, you may instead involve your student counsellor.

Remember to listen to each other and respect each other's knowledge and arguments. Compromise if and when you have to - without giving in completely.

It is also important that you celebrate your achievement of major milestones. This will create unity, reduce conflicts and improve cooperation.

"There is a difference between personal and professional conflicts"

"Seeking help is showing responsibility"

Links

Here you can find tools and further inspiration. Please note that all the services are free of charge, but some require that you register as a user.

BOOKS

  • Slug frøen!, hold op med at udsætte tingene og få mere fra hånden på kortere tid  
  • Project management, Absolute beginners guide  
  • Sprint, how to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days  
  • Dit studieliv, alt det, du ikke ved, du har brug for at vide, når du begynder at studere