Manage complex tasks

Get organised to get it done

Approaching a complex task such as a research project assessment or a thesis at honours or postgraduate level will require you to be highly organised and self-directed. You must plan and manage large blocks of unstructured time, work independently to meet distant deadlines, and juggle short and long-term commitments. Although liberating, this autonomy can also pose significant challenges.

Some ways to help you to plan, prioritise, stay on track and meet your deadline include:

  1. breaking down the task
  2. tracking your progress
  3. managing competing commitments.

Break down the task

The first step in managing complex tasks is to break the main, big task down into smaller ones. You can then approach one task at a time and stay on track.

For research projects that are part of your unit assessment, you can start with checking the assessment instructions and marking rubric, so that you understand the assessment requirements.

For an honours or postgraduate thesis, you may need to work independently and in collaboration with your supervisor/s to determine your topic and scope for your project. Check your thesis submission deadline. Although it may seem like a long time away, you will need to manage your time effectively to get through each stage of your research project.

The question to ask at this stage is: what are the different steps I need to take in order to get the main task done?

The examples below demonstrate how a complex task can be broken down into smaller tasks.

For more information about planning for a major assessment, see Manage your time.

For more information on understanding assessment tasks, see Understand your assessment.