Time management comprises a set of sophisticated principles, skills, practices, and tools that assist students in utilizing their time to achieve or accomplish what they do want. Managing one’s time is currently playing a very significant role in both professional and personal life. It teaches us what we should do in order to manage our time efficiently and make all possible or even impossible out of it.
Time management plays an essential role in studying and academic success. It helps students prioritize the tasks and accurately devote the amount of time needed to complete them. Good time management skills help young people to complete their activities in a timely fashion and learn to manage and stick to the schedule. In order to help students, we have chosen a few efficient time-saving tips that can assist in improving your time management:
- Create a priority task list
By creating a prioritized task list, students should select several the most significant tasks and the least important ones they will need to accomplish in the near future. The most significant tasks they should write at the top of the list. The least important ones they should write at the bottom of the list. In order to fight procrastination, students should also break down large tasks into a series of smaller and less threatening activities.
- Use a planner
Each college student is supposed to have a planner nowadays. It is a useful time management tool that can help students to keep their important dates and events in order. Students can use it to create the schedule for the most important meetings and events in their lives.
- Assign due dates
Students should set the right time limit for getting things done. They should write the exact day, date and time after each significant task. They should not overbook themselves and be realistic with what they can actually accomplish.
We do expect that all our time management tips will assist college students in managing their time effectively and accordingly to get the most of their years at college!
Time Management Tips
What is the point of time management tips? Changing time management habits takes time and effort, and it is always much easier when you have a simple system of practical rules and hints that are easy to keep in mind. This is exactly what the tips below are for.
- Know what you want from your time
The proven way to do it is to set goals , and to set them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.). The rest of the time management tips below will help you be effective in achieving the goals.
- Learn to see the difference between urgent and important
The important tasks are those that lead you to your goals, and give you most of the long term progress and reward. Those tasks are very often not urgent. Many urgent tasks are not really important.
- Know and respect your priorities
Aim to do the important things first. Remember the 80-20 rule: 80 percent of reward comes from 20 percent of effort. One of the aims of time management tips is to help you refocus your mind to give more attention and time to those most important 20 percent.
- Plan your actions for achieving your goals
Convert your goals into a system of specific actions to be done. The first significant point of planning is the planning process itself. It is a known fact, and you will see it for yourself, that the planning process stimulates your brain to come up with new efficient solutions. It programs your subconscious mind to search for shortcuts. It makes you much more prepared for each specific action. Besides, planning will help you to identify potential conflicts and crises, minimizing the number of urgent tasks.
Planning can also significantly lower the time spent on routine maintenance tasks, leaving you more time on what you like to do or for what you think is important for your long term success. Also remember that planning and related time management tips work best when you review your plans regularly.
- Schedule time for your tasks
Your concentration can be easily lost in the sea of many boring or less important things waiting to be done in your head. Undone things circulating in your mind are also a big drain of your mental energy. Most often, there is no way to get those things out of your mind except of either doing them or scheduling them in a trustable system, convincing your mind that they will be done in due time.
- Know how you spend your time
Keep a time log during some time interval, like a week, and then analyze it to see where your time goes. For example, what percentage of time you spend on urgent and on important activities, what people you devote most time to. You are likely to be surprised, and you will see much better if you could use more time management tips. This is also an effective way to get a feedback on how well time management tips and techniques are working for you, and where you need some adjustments.
Time Management Skills
Good time management skills is the power that allows you to be productive and make progress in different areas of your life, and still retain control over your stress and energy levels. Here are the most important time management skills and activities to consider first.
Do you respect your priorities?
We all have many things to do. How do you decide what to do first? Unfortunately, the most common answer is to start from what is most urgent or from what feels most comfortable. This is what you often do automatically, if you don’t learn to prioritize. The truth is that the most important things are typically not urgent, and the urgent things are often not that important for your long-term success. Without solid prioritizing skills you rarely have time for what is most important, you are getting stuck where you are.
Prioritizing skills are among most wanted time management skills for jobs that involve handling many projects at the same time and coping with information overload. You probably noticed that there are not many jobs nowadays that would not require this.
In personal time management, ability to prioritize your activities is also crucial for your planning to work. You always face some unexpected events or unpredictable delays that leave less time to the planned activities than you initially planned. The more clear priorities you have each day, the more prepared you are for such unpredictable situations. Instead of being totally kicked out of the planned way, you simply sacrifice a few of lower priority tasks, and you are still getting most out of your time. You know that you are prepared and you do your best.
Together with other time management skills, ability to prioritize is not something we are born with.
You hate planning?
Remember this wise quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is more than true when reaching ambitious long-term goals, like starting and running your own business.
How serious your planning is often determines how much control you have over your life. You want it or not, there is always some plan for you. The question is only whose plan it is, and whose goals it serves. If you think you don’t have a plan, very often someone or something else has it for you. Just have a more careful look around. For example, the less planning you do for your career and work, the more likely your job will be only to strictly follow someone’s instructions. You really can be more than that.
Besides, I can tell you that planning can be a real pleasure. It should be, if you want it to stay in your life. Yet, you need to get over some common myth, find your personal style of planning, and use the right tools . Then you will enjoy it in full.
Are you able to say no?
With all good intentions of people around you, if they get a chance to put their own problems on your shoulders, they will do so. Your ability to say no determines how much of your time will be wasted on solving someone else’s problems. Problems that you are not supposed to and even don’t want to solve. That does not mean you have to be too selfish. You just need to see the line between helping people and simply being used by them. How easily you say no is a matter of your personality rather than knowledge of time management skills. In contrast to a common belief, ability to say no is not about being more aggressive and mean. Instead, it is about being assertive. Assertiveness skills may be a problem for some people, but fortunately, like time management skills, those life skills can be learnt. I would recommend to start from these free assertiveness lessons . A good support for assertiveness and time management skills is also your self-confidence level.
The essence of procrastination is very well reflected in this quote by Bernard Meltzer: “Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time.”
Have you ever seen your most important tasks being put off until later and then later and later, while you are getting busy with many not so important activities? Did you hope that you may have more time and better mood in the future to start the task and do it properly? Does an approaching deadline mean a crisis for you? Do you keep hesitating when making decisions? If you often see yourself in such situations, then there is a big chance that your life got under control of the procrastination habit. And those situations are only the most explicit symptoms.
Basically, procrastination is putting off the things that you should be doing now. This happens with all of us time after time. Yet, what makes a big difference for your success is your ability to recognize procrastination in its different forms, and to promptly take it under control, before it steals your opportunities, damages your career, or destroys your relationships.
Causes of procrastination
What are typical causes of procrastination? Here are a few of the most common situations to consider.
- Waiting for the right mood
- Waiting for the right time
- Underestimating the difficulty of the task
- Underestimating the time required to complete the task
- Underdeveloped decision making skills
- Fear of failure or fear of success
- Unclear standards for the task outcome
- Perfectionism ( Take an online perfectionism test )
- Feeling as the tasks are imposed on you from outside
- Too ambiguous tasks
- What can be done?
Can you beat the procrastination habit? Yes, you can! There are many ways how you can approach it. For example, you can sit and analyze how and where procrastination controls you, and you can think about each of the above causes of procrastination. There are also many procrastination related articles on the web, and some of them can give you some useful information. This is probably enough if procrastination is not much a problem for you, and you just want to know more about it.
Effective Delegation Skill
Delegation skill is your ability to get things done by using work and time of other people. Or, in more formal words, delegation skill is the ability to effectively assign task responsibility and authority to others. Effective delegation is a critical survival skill for managers and supervisors, and this is what many delegation training resources are about. Yet, what is less often emphasized is that understanding delegation and knowing how to approach it right is an important personal time management skill, no matter if you have subordinates or bosses, if it is at work or at home.
The delegation process normally starts from asking yourself if you are the right person to do the task, and then who is the right person for this task. A common trap here is thinking like “If you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself”. Such thinking is a sure way to stay overloaded with the same kind of work. It is a severe limit on how far you can go and how much you can grow in your job, business or personal life.
The first important component of the delegation skill is choosing the right person to delegate the task to (delegatee). You can use the following simple strategies. First, if you have subordinates, can any of them do the task at lower cost than you? If you are concerned with that they do it worse than you, can they do it at least 80 percent as good as you would, or could you train them to do it so? If the task requires making decisions you are not authorized to make, when it is very right to delegate it to your boss.
Outside the standard boss-subordinate situation, a key component of the delegation skill is the ability to find a win-win deal, and still delegate the task to someone. A common win-win situation is when delegating the task saves your time and gives a valuable learning experience, skill training, or an interesting opportunity for the delegatee. One more situation is task or service exchange, when someone does a task for you in exchange for that you do another task for her/him. Finally, it may be more effective just to buy some particular service from outside, or delegate the task to technologies, for example, to some special software.
For your delegation skill to work, make sure that you will be able to monitor the progress of task execution and know if the task is actually completed. When you delegate, normally you are still responsible for that the task is completed. Avoid delegation when you are unable to monitor the completion status.
What you live to the delegatee is the responsibility for how the task is executed, the method of execution. When you do this, for the delegation to be effective it is important that you delegate the whole task. You need to effectively and clearly communicate to the delegatee what outcome is expected and what requirement are for the task results. This is very important for the delegatee’s motivation and performance, as well as for your satisfaction with the task results.
Finally, you don’t need to be a manager to be able to learn and benefit from effective delegation skill.
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Personal Goal Setting
Why is personal goal setting so important in your time management? From the time management perspective, your life is a sequence of big and small choices. It is those choices that you really manage, not the flow of time. Here and there, you face an important decision, which you give a serious thought to. Most of the time, you go through many small choices, mostly subconsciously. Goal setting is the wisdom that comes out of a lot of practical experience and psychological research to help you direct your conscious and subconscious choices towards success, building up your motivation to achieve your goals.
Much of goal setting research has been done in connection to sports and business, with the purpose to help coaches to get better results out of sportsmen, and managers to increase motivation and productivity of their employees. This is what you will often see in articles and presentations on goal setting theory. Setting goals is also considered very important for people to be successful in starting their own business. Here we look at how personal goal setting techniques can serve your personal interests. It will help not only your productivity and motivation, but also your self-realization, self-image, self-esteem and confidence. Not only in your job or business, but in all spheres of your life.
Personal goal setting and your mind
To understand better how personal goal setting works, it is good to have a simple picture of how your mind is functioning. You can think of your mind being built of two parts: conscious and subconscious minds. Conscious mind is responsible for your current awareness and decision making. It is only around 12 % of your mind. The other 88 % is your subconscious mind. Subconscious mind is where you have your personality, where all your feelings and thoughts come from. Your memory, with all your personal values, beliefs, and habits , is also there. You have quite good and direct control over your conscious mind. It takes more effort and sophistication to direct and reprogram your subconscious mind, and this is where smart personal goal setting techniques and guidelines are particularly helpful.
Personal goal setting starts from self-control
The first step towards successful goal setting is to realize that you are in control of your life. Typically we are quite sure about having full control over our choices. Yet, we hardly notice how opinions and beliefs of different people around us penetrate deep down into our subconsciousness. There are many subtle ways how we can be manipulated to serve somebody else’s misbeliefs or selfish interests. It can be your parents, friends, your boss, coworkers, and so on. Many of those people wish you only good, but they have many different sides in their personalities, and lives of their own. When you set your goals you should feel totally sure that this is indeed your goals, and you really want to reach those goals. It simply won’t work otherwise.
Speaking about self-control, what is your attitude to the role of external factors in your success ? You have full power over your choices. Yet, the outcomes of those choices also depend on many other factors, like weather, accidents, competitors, which are often unpredictable and not under your control. You need to accept that truth. You will be achieving much more if, instead of trying to control uncontrollable and predict unpredictable, you concentrate on factors that depend on you. It is strongly recommended that in your goals you focus on conditions and odds for a desired outcome, rather than on the outcome itself. You will protect your motivation. Your subconscious mind will be much more on your side too. So, just remember that performance goals work much better than outcome goals.
Goal Setting Guidelines
A very effective expression of the most important goal setting guidelines is that you should set SMART goals. What the SMART goal setting guidelines actually mean is that your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Timely.
With a specific goal you can clearly see what it is you want to achieve, and you have specific standards for that achievement. In making your goals specific it is important that you actually write them, which is crucial with all goal setting guidelines. The more specific is your goal, the more realistic is your success, and the shorter is path to it. When you work on making your goal specific, you actually program your subconscious mind to work for you. Then, your feelings and thoughts will lead you to your goal instead of pointing at the obstacles. To make your goals specific you also need to work out the other components of SMART goal setting guidelines below.
For a goal to be measurable you need a way to measure the progress and some specific criteria that will tell you when you can stop and the goal is achieved. Feeling the progress is very important for you to stay motivated and enjoy the process of achieving the goal.
An attainable goal is a goal for which you see a realistic path to achievement, and reasonable odds that you get there. This does not mean that the lower you aim the more likely you reach success. It is well known that goals that work best have a challenge in them. They are chosen as ambitious as possible, but still reachable. Then they will give you more motivation and sense of achievement.
A goal is rewarding when you have clear reasons why you want to reach that goal. This is one more place where it is important that the goal is really yours. Have your specific reasons and expected reward in writing. If possible, even with some visual pictures. Imagine how you are going to feel when the goal is finally reached. This will ensure that the goal is really worth achieving. Then, every time you get stuck and don’t feel motivated enough, read your reasons and look at the pictures. This is a known and very powerful practical technique of how to get through difficult moments and not quit.
The final requirement of the SMART goal setting guidelines is that your goal should have a specific time limit. Time is the price you pay for the reward from achieving a goal. Setting the deadline will protect you from paying higher price than the goal is worth. This is also your protection from procrastination and perfectionism. Besides, you typically have many goals competing for your time. A goal with clear time limits is much easier to fit with the rest of your goals, minimizing risk of conflicts, crises, and disbalance.