Though sometimes it can seem like your instructors don’t realize it, there is more to life than school. Students have families, jobs, social lives, and hobbies—all of which compete with schoolwork for their time. This is why time management is a skill that is essential to student success.
You need to budget enough time to spend on all the things that are worth it, and mapping your life out will make its challenges easier to navigate.
If the task of finding enough time for all of your schoolwork—and finding a healthy balance between your life in and outside of school—seems daunting or even overwhelming, remember that everyone is dealing with these issues to some degree, and the first step to success is reflecting on your situation and devising a plan.
We will provide tips and suggestions regarding good habits to develop and bad ones to avoid, but the best time management plan is customized to fit your life and all of its unique details.
That’s why the first step toward better time management is to reflect on and assess how you manage your time currently. This will help you to prioritize the demands on your time, eliminating those activities that are not a good use of your time and devising a plan to budget your time for those that are.
A time-waster is something you do instead of or in order to avoid the work you could be doing. This does not mean that you need to eliminate everything fun or relaxing from your day; in fact, making time for having fun and relaxing can be crucial to maximizing your productivity and efficiency.
The key is that these things—scrolling through social media, taking a nap, going for a walk—do not impinge on the time you have set aside for schoolwork. Though your tablet or smartphone offers you plenty of distractions, technology is not the enemy here. If you can go about your work with a little bit of self-discipline and manage your time efficiently, you will find you have more time to spend however you like.
So what does minimizing time-wasters look like? Well, for example, if social media is the primary temptation that distracts you from your work, you might try to keep your phone away from your workspace in the time that you are working in order to better concentrate on what’s in front of you. Then, when you’re finished, you and your phone will be reunited (absence makes the heart grow fonder)!
A more flexible strategy could also be effective: maybe you work best in short bursts, so you schedule intermittent breaks for scrolling through social media and giving your brain a rest. Again, the most important thing is to hone in on a plan that works best for you.
Of course, none of these methods and strategies for time management is going to do your work for you; you’re still going to have to focus and execute your plan. But the value of having a thoughtful, customized time management plan is that it puts you in the best position to succeed, not only by organizing your time, but by helping you approach your work with a sense of confidence and control over your destiny.
In the next lesson, we’ll look at some proven methods of time management, including the priority matrix, the to-do list, and the calendar. Give them a try and see if they work for you!