Time management is critical for success in every area of life, not just while a student. Whether it is juggling work, school, and your private life; managing a small business, or working towards a personal goal—such as running a marathon. It is no surprise then that developing time management skills is something we should all be honing. With so much advice out there, where do you start?
Here are some tips that I have found helpful.
Time management begins with knowing yourself and being honest when assessing where you are verse where you would like to be with productivity.
- Figure out what are your prime working times
Take note of when you seem to have the most energy and can perform focused task best. Remember when assessing yourself that there is no correct time to be most productive. Consider, are you most alert and motivated first thing in the morning or do you find yourself doing your best work in the evening after dinner? Right now that focus might be on playing video games or watching YouTube, but you should be able to tell when your concentration is at its peak daily.
- Be realistic about time
Time can feel infinite, right up until your deadline is due in an hour, but taking stock of how much time you have daily & weekly to devote to task is a crucial step to taking control of your time.
Once you know how much time you have each day, take the time to reflect on how much time it actually takes you to get things done. How many times have you found yourself thinking a bit of homework will only take an hour only to find yourself racing the posting deadline on Canvas? Difficulty projecting how long a task will take to complete is a time management killer.
Instead, think about some recent projects and how long you thought it would take to get done verse how long it actually took. Be sure to include how long it takes to pack or clean up once done as this is often overlooked when scheduling tasks.
- “I don’t have time.” vs. “It’s not a priority.”
“I don’t have time for that,” is a phrase we use too often when we do in fact have the time but don’t make something a priority. Studying, working out, and seeing friends are all things that at one time or another can slip into the “I don’t have time,” refrain. Sometimes it’s true.
Get in the habit of saying to yourself, “It’s not a
priority” and see how it feels. Sometimes it really isn’t a priority to hang out with friends since your major priority is work and school this week and that’s okay. The point of asking if this is a priority or not is to help you put your priorities first through action, not just ideals.
- Consistency is key
When going through these self-inventories to see where you are it can be easy to be down about yourself. The point isn’t to just focus on where you are at present but then use that base knowledge to take action. The difference between your time management skills now and a month from now is consistency. You while slip up applying these tools, but the important part is recognizing it, taking inventory of where you’re at, and beginning again.
Nothing sucks up our focused work time like trying to find something you’ve misplaced. Even worse is the loss of motivation due to frustration once you do find what you
needed. Whether it be a file or a class handout—not being organized cost you.
- Create, and maintain, a filing system
This might sound obvious, but having a well-maintained filing system is going to save you way more time than it will take you to create and keep it up.
A filing system has to work for you and how your mind works, but digitally I try to keep things in broad folders then create subfolders as needed. For instance, “School” or “Academics” as the broad category for the parent folder with “FH Winter 18” as a subfolder with a folder inside for each course I’m taking. The few extra keystrokes to save a file to at least the right parent folder saves tons of time later on.
- Utilize note apps
Even the best-laid plans, and filing systems, are laid to waste if you lose what you need before it can be filed away or you can’t access it when you need it. This is why I use Google Keep and my phone’s camera. If there are handouts, contact info, etc I try to take a picture of it to reference later incase in a rush I don’t file them away.
Even the best-laid plans (and filing systems) are laid to waste if you lose what you need before it can be filed away or you can’t access it when you needed. This is why I use “Google Keep” and my phone’s camera. If there are handouts, contact info, etc I try to take a picture of it to reference later in the case I don’t file them away while is a rush. “Google Keep” works on your phone and also has a desktop app. Another great note taking app that works across platforms is “Evernote” if you’re not a Google user.
- Calendar’s and planners
Along with knowing when you’re most productive and have a filing system in place is having your obligations in a centralized place. I use a mix of digital calendars and a traditional paper planner to keep track of my schedule and all the task I need to do. “Google Calendar” and “Microsoft Outlook” are two great mobile and desktop apps that work across platforms.
I enjoy using Google Calendar because of it’s ease of use, easy syncing between my phone, desktop, and email but using sub-calendars has been a game
changer! Have you ever struggled to remember when an instructors office hours are and not had the syllabus handy? The way I’ve addressed that issue is by having a sub-calendar for office hours, though recently I’ve also added on the hours of operation for the library and STEM Center as well. The best part? Since it is a sub-calendar you can make it visible only when you need it so it doesn’t clutter up your space!
These were some ideas to get you started on a more productive path. Next time we will get into how to make your actual work time more productive!
Thank you for reading and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please email us at email@example.com.