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Variability in the Academic Calendar

A professional workplace can be a creative, dynamic, and productive environment, but it can also be a challenging place to work on large projects. Many graduate students who experience difficulties with large project management attribute these problems to issues like procrastination, when the primary issue may be structural features in the workplace.
It would be considerably less challenging to manage large projects if you had a predictable amount of time every week to allocate to that task. Unfortunately, there is often significant variability in the quantity of work assigned to professionals, and it can also be difficult to make accurate predictions about how much work will be assigned to you in the future.  This is particularly true in academic workplaces where labor-intensive tasks like grading exams require considerable amount of work during short intervals of time.
It is unlikely that you will be able to eliminate this type of variability from your schedule; therefore, it is important that your long-term planning anticipates these issues and includes strategies for allocating time for large projects during these intervals.
One of the biggest risks you will need to manage is the tendency to shift all of your time and resources to urgent tasks with imminent deadlines. A potential solution would be to plan for this variability by assuming there will be relatively little time for the thesis during some weeks and then allocating additional time in other weeks to compensate for less productive intervals.
This approach requires you to establish both a long-term goal (e.g., completing a first draft of a chapter in 10 weeks) and then determining how much time per week would be necessary to meet this goal. This establishes the average amount of time necessary to meet the goal, leaving it possible to make adjustments on a week-to-week basis depending on other work-related responsibilities.
The important principle is to develop strategies that allow you to be proactive or “in charge” of factors affecting your productivity rather than reacting to issues in your workplace that make it difficult to work consistently on large projects.