Creating a time management game plan can help you juggle tasks efficiently and effectively
It’s a new semester, and whether you’re in high school or college, that means getting back into the swing of balancing schoolwork, clubs, sports, friends, and a good night’s sleep. Energy and sanity can run low when a pile of work is never ending. Managing good grades, performing well at a big game or academic competition, spending quality time with family, and maintaining a social life can be exhausting. That’s why every student should invest in a time management game plan.
Your game plan is meant to fit your needs and lifestyle, and is customized by you, for you. If utilized, these habits can become a lifesaver, sparing you all-nighters and missed deadlines. Here are some effective and efficient time management techniques that when integrated into your daily routine can clear up some free time you never knew you had, change the way you approach your work, and get some much needed stress relief.
Have a tangible tool of organization: Whether it’s a desk calendar, a notebook organizer, or reminders on your phone, implement a system where your to-do list and tasks, both personal and academic, are recorded in one place. This will allow you to see the bigger picture and plan out your time in a strategic way. Write next to each task how long it will take you and set a definitive deadline. Then experience the feeling of accomplishment as you cross assignments off your list!
Designate one work space: Pick one location in your house, whether it’s your kitchen table or a desk in your room, to do your work. By choosing an official workspace, you are guaranteeing all the materials you need will be in the same place everyday, and by entering that zone you are also mentally entering a work mindset. Instead of running around your house looking for a loose paper, book, or pencil, everything you need will be right where you need it so you can jump into your work quickly and finish on-time.
Breakdown big tasks into smaller ones: Looking at a long prompt for an essay, a comprehensive study guide, or all your notes for the year when you’re studying for finals can be daunting. Instead, split the project into smaller tasks and create a schedule for yourself. Organize an essay into paragraphs, title each paragraph, and schedule one or two paragraphs a day. Instead of cramming and writing a whole paper in one day (or the night before a deadline), give yourself a week to work on it, and only do a bit a day so you won’t feel so overwhelmed. By the time it’s the night before the due date, all you have to do is edit and print! You can do the same by making a designated study schedule for a final by assigning yourself only a few chapters of material each day the week before the exam. You will absorb the information more effectively and may even get a good night’s sleep before the big test!
Thoroughly review your notes after each lecture: While it may seem like you’re giving yourself more work that you need, this study technique will spread your workload and cut down the study preparation time later. After each lecture, look over what you learned that day, look-up and clarify any information you did not understand, neatly organize and re-type or re-write your notes, and create study questions based on the material. You will essentially be giving yourself a study guide, absorbing the material while it is still fresh in your mind, and avoiding an inevitably exhausting all-nighter.
Prioritize and label your tasks: Create a method to your madness. Try numbering tasks each day 1 through 10, 1 being the most important or urgent and 10 being the least pressing, to have an efficient work schedule. Put a “P” next to tasks that are personal and an “S” next to tasks for school or work to designate between the two. Assign each task a deadline, and as their deadline approaches you can move that task up your priority list. Put an “F” next to a deadline if it’s flexible (i.e. laundry) or a “D” if it’s definitive (i.e. paper deadline, wishing your Mom happy birthday). Always mark what outside resources (books, notes, sources, etc.) you will need to complete a task and base your deadline on when you will gather those materials. You can even create a spreadsheet with this key to keep everything organized. And when a task is finished, cross it off with your favorite colored marker!