Time management is one of the essential skills students have to learn in college. It is one of the first periods in their life when they are in full control of their time and activities. Sometimes, it is hard to find a perfect balance between studies, social life, and work.
Many students struggle with it, especially in their first year in college. Luckily, there are several techniques and strategies to make this process much easier.
In general, the secret is in planning and prioritization. One needs to organize their life wisely. But it is also worth remembering that if you cannot handle everything on your own, it is completely fine to ask for help. Professional essay writing services can help with academic assignments, and friends can help with some everyday tasks.
If you want to be better at time management and generally more productive, these tips will be very helpful for you.
Start with research
First of all, you need to analyze how you spend time and how much of it goes to waste. Carefully write down everything you do and for how long for a couple of days. You can use tracking programs, like Toggl, which is free.
In the future, you can use it for increasing productivity and focusing on work, but these days it is to understand how you spend your day. Maybe you do not even imagine how long you spend on social media or YouTube. Write down all the time-wasting activities and main distractions. Also, create a list of goals of what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to complete all assignments beforehand, stop being late for work, or have more time for yourself.
Learn to say ‘no’
This is a valuable skill any productive person needs to learn. There are only 24 hours a day and you cannot do everything. You need to start prioritizing and understanding what is urgent and what is not. And, eventually, you’ll have to say “no” to the things you do not want or need to do and have no time for. Maybe it is an unnecessary social event or watching a TV show, or maybe it is an additional course you cannot take this semester. Understand that your physical and mental resources are not endless.
Create a schedule
The next step is to create a calendar and schedule of everything you need to do. Several apps can help you with it, but you can use Google calendar and Any.do – a very useful organizing app. It is important to immediately set all academic deadlines as soon as you get a new assignment. And also set a reminder for a week or two before, depending on how much work you are going to do. It will ensure that you start early and do not miss a deadline.
Also, put all the chores, everyday tasks, and relaxation in the calendar. Make sure that your days do not look like 20 hours of work and no breaks. Prioritize the task according to their urgency and importance.
Do one thing at a time
For a long period, a lot of people were saying that multitasking is the way to go, do everything at once. But the studies show that it is harmful to the brain and actually decreases productivity. Our brain is now designed to concentrate on several things; it just has to switch fast, which is not a good thing. The secret to doing things fast and good is to do one task at a time. No distractions, no multitasking, just that one thing.
Another great way to increase your management skills is to write to-do lists every day and follow them. It helps to manage your time as you have specific tasks to check and the approximate period it will take you. And our brains love such lists. It helps to concentrate on what is important. Also, crossing the things you’ve done will give you a feeling of achievement and boost the mood.
Here is one more tip – always start with the most urgent and complicated tasks. In the morning you are still refreshed and have more energy. And when you finish something difficult, everything else will be a breeze.
Break tasks into small chunks
One of the reasons for procrastination is perfectionism and worrying about the amount of work to do. Perfectionism is also essential to drop, as no one is perfect. But another skill to learn is to divide everything down into little chunks of work.
Of course, writing a course paper sounds a bit scary. But when you break it down into small tasks it is not so overwhelming anymore. Just write down each step. Like research, the topic, find the sources, make an outline, write an introduction, etc. Smaller tasks are easier to manage and they do not look terrifying. Always break down into steps every complex duty.
Take breaks and unwind
Productivity is great, but you should never forget about the rest. Otherwise, one can struggle with burn-out or even mental exhaustion, which is quite a serious condition. When you are planning your day, set study breaks. You need to have a 15-minute rest at least every hour of study. Some prefer the 25 to 5 technique. It means working intensively for 25 minutes and resting for 5. Do what works for you.
Also, assign “me time” at least several hours a week, when you can do what you enjoy. It can be a movie, a walk in the park, meeting with friends, playing a computer game, anything.
Proper time management is all about providing structure to your day and setting clear goals. Be organized about your education and social life. Create a schedule, calendar, and to-do lists to stay on track of things. Start early on assignments, do one thing at a time, and do not forget to relax. After all, it is not only about being extremely efficient but also about caring about your overall well-being.