One of the hardest things that I’ve had to address and deal with while fully settling into college life is time management. College provides students with full autonomy of their lives. While it sounds nice, this can often be the problem. The loose and self guided schedules on university students causes many of them to lose track of time and remain unfocused. It’s easy when there’s no one watching you and telling you what to do. However, this just won’t work in the real world “post college life”. There is no better time than now to learn how to successfully manage your time.
Before you can fully divulge into managing your time and understanding how to, you must first truly take notice of how much time you waste. A trick that I gathered from a friend was to set alarms in 1 hour increments then go about your day. As each alarm goes off, reflect on what you did in that hour and what you actually accomplished. You’d be surprised to see how much time gets wasted in an hour without even noticing it. Here are my top four tips on how to better manage your time.
1. PLAN AHEAD AND MAKE A TO-DO LIST: How could you possibly manage your time without first knowing exactly what needs to be done for the day? Take a moment each evening and figure out what it is you want and need to get done the next day. The more you plan ahead the easier it is to remain on top of things. Try writing it down in a journal or small notebook that will be easy to carry around with you. While I understand things come up don’t allow minor occurrences to knock off the entire schedule.
2. SET A ROUTINE PLAN: While you may have your to-do list, it is important to schedule when and how you’ll complete each task. Each task needs a set time of when it should be worked on and finished. Let’s say you have class at 12:00 pm, a paper to write, and an assignment that’s due. From there, breakdown your day into set time intervals. For example, Class: 12:00 pm – 12:50 pm, Lunch: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, Spanish paper: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, and Math work: 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm. With this you know exactly what you’ll be doing and when you should be doing it. Allow the task to be interchanged but the format remains the same. This is developing a routine. Take notice of the buffer times between tasks and lunch breaks which will lead into the next step. Side note: I do not recommend beginning your day at noon, this is strictly for example purposes only.
3. MAKE BUFFER TIME BETWEEN TASKS: We often get this idea that if we don’t stop working and just keep going through each task we’ll be doing better. This is not the case. It is very necessary to give yourself a moment, not forever, but a moment to relax between events. The time we give ourselves to recharge will enable us to go to the next task better and with more of a clear mind. This also helps avoid the 30 minute Twitter breaks during scheduled work times.
4. PRIORITIZE: The last and most important tip for time management is to prioritize. Write down the more important things in the aforementioned journal in either a different color than the rest or with special markers by showing its priority. Spend the beginning of your day doing the task that will need the most attention or are due the soonest. While this may often be the harder task, this is the best way to go about it. Many may say do the easy stuff first but that is a scapegoat. Spending your most mentally fresh time on the easy stuff is a disservice to yourself and opens up the opportunity of excuses.
Now that you have the necessary tips and tools to conquer each day it is of importance to actually put these plans into action. The best way to stick to something is repetition. There is no bigger opponent to ourselves than us. Do not let wasted time take you out.