Do you ever feel like time gets away from you? Like there is never quite enough to go around? Responsibilities pile up and suddenly between your job and family and school, there are not enough hours in the day. It becomes a juggling act.
Good news — managing your time effectively is possible! It’s a learned skill that takes practice and discipline, just like any other skill. The difference? Time management skills can have a direct, profound effect on your success.
According to a nationwide survey, 87 percent of students say that better time management and organization skills would help them get better grades. The key is finding a balance between your school work, your job, your personal life and other responsibilities so you can be as successful as possible in each area of your life!
Here are a few basic tips for how to manage your time in college and beyond:
1. Plan ahead and schedule your time.
It’s important to know what you have coming up, and planning ahead can help you to be prepared. Use the first 30 minutes of your day to plan the rest of your day. Write out a checklist of everything you need to do, and set aside specific times to work on each.
Download our sample time management worksheet to get started mapping out your study time.
According to ReliablePlant, 48 percent of students manage their contacts, assignments and deadlines by writing everything down. That way, when you start your day, you don’t waste any time figuring out what needs to happen next. Plus, setting aside times for each responsibility or task will help you stay focused and keep you on track while you’re working on it, allowing you to accomplish more.
2. Start early.
Procrastination is tempting — especially when you are overwhelmed or dreading what’s on your to do list; that little voice in your head can be very convincing. Putting off your tasks does not make them go away. In fact, procrastination makes tasks an even bigger headache later — according to StudyMode, 45 percent of students admit that procrastination negatively impacts their grades very often or fairly regularly.
Fight the urge to put off tasks. Begin your assignments right away while your mind is fresh. This keeps you from running out of time as deadlines approach. Plus, if you finish early, you have free time to get a jump start on whatever task is next or a few extra minutes to relax. Relaxing after you complete a task is far more effective because you no longer have something looming over your head.
Complete the most important tasks first. You don’t want to get caught too close to a deadline without having started on the project. Knocking out important tasks first will get you ahead of the game and may even free up more time to knock out an extra task from your to do list.
4. Set achievable goals and take short breaks.
When setting goals, make sure that they are realistic. Break your tasks down into small, achievable pieces. In addition to setting reasonable milestones, be sure that you’re also taking breaks. Plan to take at least a five-minute break every hour or after you finish a strenuous assignment.
Taking breaks will prevent burnout. However, be sure to set a limit on how long your breaks will last so that time doesn’t get away from you.
5. Eliminate distractions.
Along with procrastination, distractions can serve as very tempting time-wasters. To avoid distractions, find a quiet space and silence your phone.
And while it is important to take breaks, too many unnecessary, unplanned breaks to scroll through social media or surf the web can end up wasting more time than you had intended.
Studies show that 45 percent of work time is spent on one kind of distraction or another, causing one to forget where they left off, and 25 percent of the time one forgets to return to the task at hand. Minimizing distractions will help you stay focused!
6. Take care of yourself.
A healthy lifestyle enables greater productivity. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, drinking enough water and exercising can boost energy levels and clear your mind. According to Key Organization Systems, 72 percent of people reported improvement in time management and 79 percent said their mental performance was better on days that they exercised. People need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep in order for their bodies and minds to function well.
When looking for things to eliminate in an effort to save time, be sure that you don’t eliminate the aspects of your life that keep you healthy and functioning well, such as sleep and relaxation. It is important to do something for yourself and that you enjoy every once in awhile!