Time management is a vital aspect for college success. By managing your time more efficiently you can become less stressed, finish projects and assignments on time, and put an end to procrastination. Time management is not just about rearranging your time, its about rearranging your entire thought process.
The first step in effective time management is setting goals. “Self-discipline is a valuable skill that helps you influence different aspects of your life whereas a lack of self-discipline keeps you from setting and achieving meaningful goals.”(Newman, Floyd) When it comes to making goals there is a method that was created by George Doran, which was published in the November 1981 issue of the Management Review. This method is called the S.M.A.R.T method.(Scott, S.J.) This is an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. “Specific goals answer your six “W” questions: who, what, where, when, which and why.” (Scott, S.J, (p. 12) When you can break down the long term goals into a subset of short term goals, you’ll be more able to identify exactly what steps you are going to need to take to reach your goal. Each short term goal should have a specific outcome. Once you have a specific outcome you are looking for, you need to ensure it is measurable. Measurable goals are goals with clear attainable outcomes. Both long term and short term goals should have some point of reference to see if you are making progress. This means that each goal should have a specific deadline that you are reaching for. The third step in the S.M.A.R.T model is making goals attainable. You should be able to achieve goals, but they should not be so easy that they are easily within reach. You should challenge yourself to reach goals. Make the goal seem a little out of reach, so even if you fail, you still have accomplished something significant. The fourth step is to make goals relevant. Make sure that goals are relevant to your life, that they are what you really want or need. If you have goals at school, your career, and your personal life, it is helpful to integrate them. By integrating goals into all aspects of your life, it gives you more drive to reach for them. It lets you know that each component of your life works together to help you succeed to the best of your ability. “[Goals should be] in harmony with everything that is important in your life, from success in your career to happiness with the people you love.”(Scott, S.J., pp. 13-14, Kindle edition) The final step is time bound. Every goal should have a very clear time line. You can set this time line anyway you want, whether you want to be accomplished today, tomorrow, next week, or in a year from now. The key to creating any time line for goals is that you set the time and work backward, marking concise benchmarks along the way. This way you know when the goal needs to be complete, and where you should be in the process of success.
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Now that you know what your goals are, it is important to set priorities. Decide what is important and what is not. Make a list of these priorities and put them in order of what needs to be done first, second, third, and so on. One you understand what your priorities are, it is important to plan out a schedule for the whole semester as a whole.
The second step in effective time management is scheduling. Making a schedule for the whole semester will help you understand where your priorities stand, and what should be worked on and when. Calenders are one tool that is imperative to the time management process. You should begin by looking at each class syllabus and block in all school and lab times. Secondly, you should block in all standing commitments such as work, church, meetings and so on. Next it is important to highlight all exams and project due dates. This will help you break down your academic routine for homework and study days. Look at your calendar and work backward from exams and papers. This will help you determine when to start working on your papers or study for exams. Beginning every week, you should spend roughly thirty minutes looking at your calendar and mapping out the week. Remember to ask yourself questions about the week. What are your expectations? What do you plan to accomplish during the week? What tasks are more important than others? What will you have to do to reach your goals? How much time will each activity take? When will I do each activity? Remember to keep goals realistic, there’s only twenty-four hours in a day, and you need to rest some of that time. It is also thought that if you study at the same time each day, you condition your brain to know that it is study time, this makes studying a habit. It is also thought that dividing study time into fifty minute blocks, followed by a ten minute break, helps you retain information better, and sets you up for higher success. As part of the scheduling process it is important to revisit and revise your schedule. Take an inventory of how you are choosing to spend your time. Was there any time that was wasted? What did you accomplish? What didn’t get done? What changes need to be made to your weekly schedule to help you succeed? Are you sticking to your plans and goals? Is procrastination an issue? These questions can aid you in understanding where your time is being spent, what changes do or do not need to be changed, and help you take an inventory of your self. Once you take an inventory of how your schedule is going, it will help you to be able to understand more of what you have to do to be successful in your goals.
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“Procrastination is arguably productivity’s number one enemy.” (Newman, Floyd. Time Management: The Art Of Being Productive (Increase Productivity, Get Organized And Get Things Done) (Increase Productivity – Reduce Stress – Save Time Book 1) (Kindle Locations 219-220). Kindle Edition.) It is hard to fight procrastination because it is a mental battle that one must fight. You have to dedicate yourself to be on time and to stop doing what ever you are using as an excuse not to complete your work. One of the best tools you can use to help you conquer procrastination is to divide a big job into smaller parts. “When you break them down to smaller chunks, you avoid being discouraged or the temptation to procrastinate.”
(Taylor, Dane. Time Management: The Ultimate Productivity Bundle – Become Organized, Productive & Get Clear Focus (Time Management Tips, Time Management Skills, Productivity Hacks) (Kindle Location 1203). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition.) This makes the goal more attainable and helps you feel accomplished along the way. When you break them down to smaller chunks, you avoid being discouraged or the temptation to procrastinate.
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