Now that you’ve been given some tips on how to find extra time in your day, we’re going to get into how to manage your time effectively so you get the most out of your days.
Time management is about taking back control over your day, and organizing your tasks in such a way that it becomes possibly to get things done in a timely manner.
The first thing you will need is a planner system of any kind… Lily Pulitzer, a Walmart planner, or an app on your phone. Find the system that works the best for you and makes it easy to keep up with all the things going on in your day.
My current planner system is a bullet journal, it is extremely flexible for anyone’s needs and does not have to be very expensive. I also use google calendar to organize my daily schedule to make it easy to follow along.
When planning out each day, choose the top 3 tasks that you would like to or need to accomplish that day. Write those things down first or make them stand out in some way, and then off to the side or on a sticky note have a running list of things you’d like to do if you have time after the first 3 things are done. This helps to keep you focused on the 3 most important things that day without getting side tracked. You’ll also feel very accomplished when you mark off those 3 things, motivating you to tackle more on your list.
However, this is life, and life brings many surprises and plan changes. So if something comes up during the day, and you did not finish what you needed to, don’t beat yourself up over it. This will only discourage you the next day. Instead, remind yourself that life happens and move on.
With that in mind, many people (myself included) struggle with saying no. Have you ever taken a moment to think about all the things you have to do and thought why on earth did I sign up for so many things?!
It’s because you couldn’t say no when the opportunity presented itself. And I do agree that you should make the most of your college experience and get involved (I have a whole post about that here). But at some point you need to think about your sanity. And do not feel bad for dropping things because you are taking care of yourself and creating more time to focus on the truly most important thing at college, your classes.
Even Jesus had to take some time away from the crowd and be by himself.
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Matthew 14:22-23
This was after Jesus preached all day and fed 5,000 men (not including women and children) with the five loaves and two fish. That is a looooong day. He recognized that he needed to send them home and take time to recharge.
How does this apply to us? We get so caught up in things we are doing that may be perfectly good things that it takes us away from our other priorities. Because of this we have to learn to say no sometimes.
First, make a list of ALL of your responsibilities and what you are involved in, maybe put an ! next to the things that are extra stressful. Then create another list or column, and list the most important priorities from the first list. Choose only 3-5 items!! The point is to make the first list smaller. Also, classes and any program that provides you scholarship money should automatically move to that list. That might look something like this:
After moving over your top priorities, take a look at what’s left on the first list. Ask yourself, is any of this extracurricular? Are any of these extremely stressful? Could I live without this activity? Does this help to accomplish my career goals after college?
When asking these questions decide if you need to completely drop an activity or just lessen the amount of importance and time you put into it.
Finally create a list of everything left from the most important to the least. Draw a box or something to remember those top 3-5 items that are the top of your priority. (see next example below) It is important to remember that you don’t necessarily have to give the most time to these things, but you must give them the best of yourself and priority time over everything else. Being diligent and staying in line with your priorities will help you not become overly stressed out when life gets busy.
Reference this list when creating your schedule or if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and remind yourself what you decided was most important in your life. This will greatly help when planning and managing your time. Also, this list will naturally change over time as your life changes, and you become involved in different things.
If you made it this far, you just absorbed a lot of information. So to recap: find a planner that works for you, list your 3 most important tasks each day, learn to say no, and create a list of priorities. I hope you have enjoyed the time management series, and feel able to organize and accomplish more throughout your day!
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this or have your own time management tip to share!