Prioritizing your work means deciding what is most important and what needs to get done first. When you prioritize, the most important tasks that must be completed soon are at the top of your list. These are known as your top priorities.
You may have other important tasks that are less urgent. These are also priorities, but they should be completed after your top priorities. Things that have little or no importance to you should be eliminated from your list of tasks to complete when you are busy. Prioritization is a best practice to help you manage time because it enables you to create a plan for moving ahead with the things that matter most.
EXAMPLEAny work you have due in the next few days is urgent, but an assignment worth 25% of your grade is more important than an ungraded assignment. Of course, you’re going to complete both assignments, but you want to give more time to the more important one.
Being organized and prepared for the road ahead will improve your mental health in the long term.
A helpful tip for writing a to-do list is to be specific and break down an assignment into component parts that represent tasks that are doable in one or a couple of sittings.
EXAMPLEIf your to-do list says “Write Paper,” this is not very instructive in terms of what specifically you need to do. Instead, perhaps the list says “Brainstorm Topics for Paper” and then “Outline Paper,” etc. This is a more effective way to organize and estimate your time.
Organizing your time in this manner gives shape and focus to the days, weeks, and months ahead of you. If you have the discipline to stick to and execute your plan, you’ll put yourself in a position to succeed in both the short and long term.
At the same time, the ability to adapt and be flexible is also important—if you find your schedule has become an obstacle to your success, reconsider and adjust your plan as necessary.
In addition to deciding what you’re going to set out to accomplish on a given day, you need to decide when in the day you’re going to work.
It’s important to give some thought to whether you work best at a certain time or under certain conditions—some students may be more efficient in the morning and others in the afternoon or evening. There is no universally ideal time to do your schoolwork; once again, the key is to determine what works best for you.
What should you do? Late-night coffee or energy drinks to stay awake might not be the best solution. Consider restructuring your workday so that you can do your work at a time when you have the energy to tackle it.
Every student has a life—with its own concerns and responsibilities—outside of school. Taking care of the whole of your life by properly balancing your life at school with your life at work or at home is absolutely crucial to a student’s success.
If you can manage your time efficiently, you can ensure you have enough time to give to each part of your life that matters. What’s more, leading a happy and healthy life outside of school is going to positively affect the energy level and mood with which you approach your schoolwork.