With so many things you have to do, it can be tough to know where to start. Should you study for that test on Monday? Take that extra shift at work? But wait, what about the friends you haven’t seen in ages? Everything seems important, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The solution to your dilemma, my friend, is time management.
Just what is time management? It’s a series of tools and processes to help you get control over how much time you spent on each activity. Through the use of scheduling, prioritization, goal setting, and other resources, you can start feeling like you’re using your time wisely instead of wasting it.Read on for the top 5 ways you can use time management to better balance your work, school, and life.
1. Use a Planner
Mapping out your commitments against the time you have available is a powerful exercise. There’s something about the act of getting things down in “black and white” that makes it easier to make choices and set priorities.
While many use electronic planners, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned paper planner to help set your schedule. Research has shown that the act of writing something down helps students remember better. What’s more, you can have fun with a paper planner – doodle, add stickers, and color to your heart’s delight. This is a great way of alleviating stress and having a little fun with a packed calendar.
2. Stick It on a Sticky Note
Another tangible way of getting control of your schedule is by using sticky notes. For each task you have to do, grab a sticky note and write it down. Use the wall, a window, a table, or just about any flat surface to organize your sticky notes until you begin to see patterns. Are there certain tasks you could combine? Are some things really not all that important? Could this commitment be moved to next week? Sticky notes help you think flexibly, allowing you to move things around until the plan is structured just right.
3. Put Yourself First
In a jumble of commitments, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Running yourself ragged is a sure way to start losing control of your schedule. No matter how impossible it seems, remember to take time out to eat right, exercise, and most importantly, get enough sleep. Know yourself and how you work best: are you a night owl? Do you love waking up early? Do you do best working in small chunks over time or in last-minute marathons? Make sure your schedule reflects the schedule that works best for you.
What’s more, don’t be afraid to go the extra mile and take a little time out for doing something fun and relaxing. The key is moderation and keeping it all in balance. Beware blowing off a whole Sunday, but an hour or two off might just be what you need to recharge and get back to it.
There will be times where it’s just not possible to get everything done. This happens to everyone and it’s not a sign of failure. When you’re looking at an impossible number of tasks to get done in a limited amount of time, don’t be afraid to let some things go. The trick is choosing the right things by setting priorities. While your friends will understand if you can’t go out until next week, your boss or professor might not be so forgiving if you miss a deadline. Carefully consider the consequences of letting something go, and choose wisely.
Every month or two, take some time to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t. Paper planner not doing it for you? Go with an electronic one. Missing your friends? Schedule some time with them. Don’t be afraid to make changes to even the most carefully planned schedule, because sometimes, it’s just what you need.