Whether you’re a high school student or in your last year of varsity, or even a working professional, managing your time effectively is very important. We all have plenty of things in our academic, professional and personal lives that need our time and energy. The more we proactively manage these competing priorities, the more effective and productive we become and, importantly, the less stressed.
This week’s post will give you a few simple tips and techniques to help you manage your time properly to get the most out of your days and weeks and stay one step ahead of your deadlines.
Improving your time management skills
We’ve all had that feeling. You look at your upcoming test or exam schedule and you wonder how on earth you’ll find time to study all those chapters. Or you get your new timetable at the beginning of the semester and there seems to be no time to go the gym or spend time with your friends.
Managing your time is crucial when you have many competing priorities and will not only make you more productive, it will also reduce your stress levels. Here are a few tips and techniques that will help you to form healthy habits that will enable you to manage your time more effectively.
Make a schedule…and stick to it
It may sound obvious but planning your days and weeks can make a big difference to your productivity. It allows you to allocate sufficient time to tasks and prioritise the more important ones. Of course, there will be surprises and you can’t account for everything but you will at least know what the bulk of your time is being spent on. For your academic schedule, put a calendar on your wall and write all the key dates for semester (such as tests, assignments and exams) so you know what’s coming. Each week, plan what activities you want to do on each day, including social and sporting activities, and do your best to stick to it. It may take some practice but you’ll soon see the benefits once you’ve formed the habit.
Set some boundaries
Part of developing healthy time management habits is setting clear boundaries between academic commitments and your personal time. In order to develop a productive schedule, you should allocate time to specific tasks and not let one sphere of your life take away from another. Firstly, everyone should take at least one full day every week off from studying, even in the busiest exam period. Without proper rest, your productivity will go downhill and your stress levels will do the opposite. If you plan your time properly, you should be able to take at least a day a week for yourself. You should also give time to personal and leisure activities amongst your studying. Set aside Tuesday nights for your friends and Thursdays mornings for exercise, for example. Work this into your schedule and maintain those boundaries.
Good distractions vs bad distractions
We’re all human and we all get distracted. The important thing is to recognise what distracts us and to try and avoid the distractions that take too much of your time. Social media is the ultimate distraction and can often suck you in for way longer than you planned. Try and make rules around when you can check your social media (maybe during lunch for a few minutes) and stick with them. When you find your concentration flagging or your brain getting tired, rather get up and walk around or go and grab a cup of coffee. Use that distraction to rejuvenate your brain and give your body a chance to move around.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. We are all guilty of putting things off and waiting for tomorrow rather than getting things done today. This is a habit that you should do your best to change – being productive at varsity, at work and even in your everyday life, means you should do everything you can today so you can do even more tomorrow.
Time management is something you need to put effort and energy towards, it doesn’t simply happen. However, the benefits cannot be overstated and proper time management in your everyday life, from studying to your social life, is one of the vital ingredients to your success.