High school and college are supposed to prepare you for the realities of your future career needs, but some skills are never taught in class. While your Psychology and Finance classes might be important to your future job as a top-tier executive, time-management is a skill you should master to become successful. Luckily, you still have a few years to learn the basics and develop your own personal system of time-management perfectly suited to your character and needs.
Today I want to share a few personal insights that could come in handy for you.
Get A Clear Picture Of Your Time Expenses
Before you solve the problem, you need to understand its extent. How many hours per day do you spend on your homework? And how much time do you waste online? You might have some idea, but lets get the hard numbers.
Install a time-tracking app (i.e. Toggl) on your mobile, your desktop or laptop. You will need to note all your activities, from waking up to going to bed and time them. Dont leave anything out. Even if you decide to binge watch your favorite show, let your record show it.
After a week, take a look at your log. You will see just how much time you waste, and how little you actually spend on studies. Or maybe, you will find out that you need to relax more. Either way, you will have a better understanding of your time-management needs and the problems you will need to overcome. After that, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Start With The Things You Absolutely Must Do
Of course, there arent many tasks you cant avoid, except, maybe, sleeping and eating. Still, as a student, you are supposed to attend classes, complete assignments, and pass exams. So before we go any further, make a list of all the most important tasks that you cant avoid and that take up much of your time. Your list should, probably, include:
- High school or college classes
- Homework and revision
- Extracurricular activities you pursue
- Sleep and meals
- Other unavoidable tasks
After that, you can compose another list, with all the things you would like to do with your free time, like go out with friends, catch a movie or spend an hour or two scrolling through your YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. It is important to plan your downtime, as well as school tasks. Without regular rest periods, you wont be able to keep studying effectively. As a result, you will spend more time on the assignments that you could have done twice as fast.
Fill In Your Calendar Or Day Planner
Beside the to-do list, you will also need a digital day planner or calendar. You can, of course, use a paper day planner. But it is infinitely easier to add extra tasks and shuffle things around when you dont have to cross off entire pages and start anew. Add the time slots for the tasks you have already added to your must-do list. Your timetable should be pretty similar from week to week, so you will be able to see the free periods you can dedicate to more pleasant activities that went onto your second list.
Estimate the amount of time each activity will take and write down the time in your day planner. In case you have overestimated the time needed, narrow the time slot next time. And if you spent more time than planned, increase the time you allot for the activity next time.
Take time every Friday or Saturday to plan your next week. It will take you 30 minutes to an hour, but the time spent is well worth it. When all of your tasks are listed in your calendar, you free up your mind to achieve other goals, i.e. write essays and complete other assignments.
Create An Inbox For New Tasks
Over the course of the week, you get numerous assignments from your professors. You get interesting ideas and thoughts for your essays and reports. Your friends invite you out, and your mom wants you to come home over the weekend. If you take time to slot every new piece of information you get into your calendar, you will waste precious time. Instead, create an inbox for all incoming data you gather over time. Write down all new tasks and assignments, ideas and invitations without formulating responses or planning the course of action.
Once or twice a week, take time to sort through everything in your inbox. Decide whether your ideas are worth pursuing, plan your outings with friends and a visit home. It is a good idea to clear your inbox before making plans for the next week.
Make Your Plans Flexible
There is nothing worse for your peace of mind than a schedule set in stone. You are only human, and life happens. You might catch a cold or have a family member pay you an unexpected visit. All these disruptions are natural, and they should not make you feel angry or anxious. Try to leave enough free room on your calendar to compensate for such unpredictable occurrences.
By the end of the week, you can take note of the tasks you did not manage to complete and reschedule them for later. However, the use of the digital day planner will not allow you to forget about your unfinished business or misplace the reminders.
Do not worry, if you can only complete about 70% of the tasks you plan for the day. There arent many people who are capable of correctly estimating their time and energy to achieve all daily goals. The more you practice your time-management skills, the better you will become. But more importantly, you will be able to use the experience gained throughout your whole life.