Time Management

Time Management

By Dr. Phyllis Ingham, EdD, MEd, MLS(ASCP)cmAHI(AMT)

Help I’m Stressed Out! How Am I Ever Going to Get This Done?

Time Management, what’s that? Yes, over all my years as an educator, the number one complaint by all students is how stressed they feel. When I ask the question, “How do you purposefully manage your time?” I always get the same answer….“I don’t”. Every college student must learn how to manage their time wisely to avoid the common pitfalls of struggling to “beat the clock” and really get things accomplished.

Helpful Tips for Better Time Management

  • Make a Plan: The first step in almost anything worthwhile is to make a plan of how you expect to accomplish the task or project at hand.
  • Prioritize: Set up a task list taking into consideration and concentrating on the most important items first. Get a calendar and write down your task list.
  • Work the Plan: A lot of students begin each new semester making plans and while this is an all important first step, the problem we encounter most often is, we make a plan but we never “work” the plan. It really does make sense to ensure you set up a timeline for yourself so you will work the plan every day.
  • Stay Focused: Make sure you stay focused on one small task at a time. Of course, we are concerned about the big picture but if we focus on one task at a time we allow our brains to work at highest efficiency. When your attention is spread across multiple things, you generally don’t do any of them well. If you become a little distracted, it requires your brain to continually refocus on the task at hand.
  • Know Your Peak Productivity Time: We all have certain times of the day, evening, or night which we can get the most work done. There are times of the day or week when your mind is sharpest. There are also certain environments that let you focus the most, like a quiet library, an organized desk, or a coffee shop. Everyone has a different “peak productivity time.” Do you know yours? Once you know when you are the most productive then use that time to work on the most challenging tasks on your list.
  • Set Reasonable Deadlines: If you have a big project, estimate how long the project will take you by: breaking the project or task down into small chunks, estimate the time you will need for each of those small chunks and add in a little extra buffer time, add up the total time and then determine a total time you think it will take you to complete the entire project or task at hand. Schedule the milestones you would like to accomplish and place deadlines for yourself adding those dates to your calendar.
  • Schedule Breaks and Something Fun: The most important tip is to make sure you remember to schedule breaks for yourself as you are working on your project or task at hand. Take a brain break, walk the dog, listen to some music, exercise, splurge on an ice cream cone. Short breaks will get those creative juices flowing and you can finish up strong.
  • Sleep: Yes, that’s right! We need sleep for our brains to connect the synaptic junctions and give neurons time to store up information into a retrievable file. When we lose sleep, we can’t focus on the task and the end result is usually major setbacks in time management which leads to stress overload.
  • Make Adjustments: You must always be ready to make adjustments to your plan. Even the best developed plan may require adjustments and changes in order to reach your expected outcome.
  • Celebrate: remember to celebrate the small accomplishments you make as you work your plan. Go ahead and “do that happy dance” and when someone asks you “How Do You Eat an Elephant?” you can say “One bite at a time”.

One last thought to share: “You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax and master the day. Then keep doing that every day”.