What is “Time Management?”
Time management is a skill that helps you feel in control of your life. If you often procrastinate, waste time on trivial things, feel out of control of your schedule, or over-commit yourself, then you probably mismanage time. Time wasted can never be regained! Time management involves sound planning backed up with good habits.
Time is a precious and limited resource.
How to Waste Time
- Attempting too much at once. Taking on too many projects, taking too many classes, or agreeing to too many social events.
- Procrastination. When you put off until tomorrow what can be done today you lose “today” forever.
- Perfectionism. Having to do things perfectly, or doing it alone when help is available.
- Not saying “no.” Distractions, parties, or favors for others keep you from doing what you need to be doing.
- Personal disorganization. A messy desk, poor study skills, or no set study schedule lead to wasting time trying to get organized before getting anything done.
- Unrealistic time estimates. Underestimating the time it takes to write papers, read notes, study for tests, and do homework leads to a serious backup as the school term progresses.
- Lack of self-discipline. This could be a result of lack of interest, poor health, or unclear goals.
How To Manage Time Better
These steps can help you gain control of your time:
- Make a list of what is important to you & your basic values. Categories may include things such as physical well being, intellectual well being, and fulfilling relationships. Be specific. There will probably be about ten to twenty values on your list. The list must be personal and reflect YOU.
- Write down long-term goals. Use the above list to give you ideas. For example, finish college, develop an exercise program, and establish a long-term relationship. Try to develop goals for many areas of your life — not just school or work.
- A goal is a dream with a deadline.
- Write down intermediate- and short-term goals. These include immediate tasks such as studying for a test or writing a paper. They can also include activities to be accomplished in the near future, such as writing a resume, finding a summer job, or planning an exercise program. It is important that these short-term goals match the values and long-term goals that you identified for yourself.
- Time management experts say that the daily plan is the most important tool to improving your life.
- Make a daily plan. Goals without planning won’t work to improve your life. Every day, review your goals and your commitments for the day, make a To Do list, prioritize the items on your list, and complete top priority tasks before lower priority items. Prioritize according to your own goals rather than someone else’s.
Your daily activities should reflect who you are and help you get what you want out of life.
How to Get More Organized
- Do unpleasant tasks first. Let’s face it — there are some things that are just no fun. Get them out of the way first. You will feel a sense of relief and accomplishment and can get down to other tasks you need to work on. It might help to reward yourself for accomplishing the unpleasant task.
- Become aware of your own body rhythms and work with them. If you work best in the morning, plan your day to allow yourself to be productive at this time.
- Protect your prime time. Do not schedule anything or allow distractions during time you have set aside.
- Learn to say “no.” Don’t let timidity, fear of offending, or desire for approval enslave you. “No” can be said in a polite, honest way and true friends will not be offended by honesty. Examples:
- I’d rather not.
- I can’t do that right now.
- No, I’ve promised myself to finish this right now.
- No thanks.
- Not this time.
- I’m afraid I have to decline.
- Sorry, but not.
- Thanks for asking, but no.
- Nope, can’t do it.
- Use a month-at-a-glance calendar or scheduling system. This allows you to get a big picture of when exams are scheduled, papers are due, and when you have breaks.
- Keep goals visible. They will motivate you.
- Keep deadlines visible. They will keep you on track.
- Set realistic time estimates. Many things take longer than people think.
- Battle perfectionism. Lower your standards to what is reasonable.
- Battle procrastination. Do it NOW. If a task seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller parts and begin step one.
- Keep your work areas neat. Clean off your desk and keep it neat so that it becomes a comfortable area to work.
- Live a balanced life. Having fun, relaxing, and enjoying life are important. Don’t forget to plan for fun time as well as work related tasks.
- Stay focused but flexible. The best planning goes awry sometimes. Just begin again the next day.