Lately one of the most requested posts for me to do is one revolving around the topic of time management. I think that may be due to the fact that I shared my schedule with y'all a couple of weeks ago and some of you may have been alarmed with how busy it seemed. As the school year approaches and we are forced to slip out of our slower summertime routine into a more high activity and hectic schedule everyone could use a bit of a reminder on how to better manage the time they have.
Time management has never been something I have struggled with and I know that I am lucky because of that. For some people, that is the hardest thing for them to grasp after heading off to college where you have more freedom and inevitably more time. Ever since I can remember I've always had a pretty full schedule. In high school I was always playing a sport (cross country and soccer), juggling honors courses, and towards the end maintaining a blog. If I hadn't learned how to manage my time pretty early on then sacrifices probably would have had to be made and more than likely in the areas I enjoyed the most (my parents would't be too keen on the idea of me slacking off in school). Since I knew that I had a lot on my plate and I wanted to succeed at it all my go-getter and perfectionist personality is to thank for the time management skills I've developed. If you aren't quite as lucky then don't worry since there are lots of steps you can take to better manage your time.
get a planner
Planners are my best friend when it comes to getting everything done and planning ahead. As ridiculous as it sounds, if it isn't written in my planner there is a very good chance that it won't be done. During especially stressful school week I feel as though my planner is my IV keeping me going when I feel stressed. It doesn't so much matter which type of planner you choose as long as the style/set up of the planner is functional for you. Personally, the bigger the better as I like to write a lot of different things down.
Some of my favorites include: Lilly Pulitzer Jumbo | Day Designer (recently released w/ Target, I snagged this one) | Kate Spade | Erin Condren
Similar to a planner, a to-do list is a great way to stay on top of what you need to accomplish. The only time I don't have a running to do list is during the weekend and more often than not I have one going then as well. While it is great to list out your assignments in your planner there is a lot more in your day than just school work. I like to write just about everything on my to-do list from my workout to printing out article pages and doing laundry to lunch dates with friends. Also, there is a strange satisfaction that comes along with completing tasks on a to-do list which motivates me to accomplish it all!
This may just be my number one tip. Prioritizing is absolutely essential when it comes to accomplishing an abundance of tasks. I try to start with what I am dreading most (as un-motivating as it sounds) so that once that task is out of the way it is relatively smooth sailing afterwards. Knowing that test studying comes before article reading that you *may* discuss in class comes with the territory of figuring out college (or school in general) and a bit of common sense will get you further than you think. Another way in which prioritizing works for me is by setting out to accomplish the tasks that take the least amount of time after I've tackled what task I am dreading most. By accomplishing a bunch of little tasks and checking them off of my to-do list I get a feeling similar to that post-workout high that is a motivator in and of itself.
If you're stuck with limited time and a lot to do now is not the time to procrastinate and be indecisive. Time wasters are not welcome when I am determined to accomplish a lot so you shouldn't allow them to be for you either. Go with your gut.
set a timer
Sometimes I work better under pressure although this strategy works better when the pressure is self imposed as opposed to a quickly approaching deadline. Setting a timer to go off 30 to 45 minutes from when you begin is a great way to trick yourself into thinking you need to get a lot accomplished in a short period of time. I find myself to complete a lot and avoid distractions with self imposed time restrictions.
Luckily for me, this comes naturally. I am all about neat and tidy school supplies and everything staying in its proper place but if this isn't you then take a bit of time before you begin working to get everything situated in a way in which you can function. Staying organized from the get go can save you lots of time (and energy) as well as help to avoid the stress that can come when you have a crisis because you've misplaced something important.
be a morning person
So this is more determined by knowing when you work best but for me that is in the morning. Since I am aware of that this encourages me to get up earlier so that I can accomplish more tasks in the morning when I am most energized! I also love that things are a bit quieter in the morning (hello college and most people despising 8:30s) and I feel like I have fewer distractions.
learn to say no
This is definitely something I am still working on. It can be hard to turn down other people's requests (especially when you're a people pleaser) but it is important to do so that you don't bite off more than you can chew leaving yourself way too overwhelmed to accomplish anything. There is a way to respectively say no and the sooner you learn that the better you can become at your own time management.
build in flexibility
Things come up, that is life. Being realistic with your expectations and schedule are a must if you'd like to manage your time in a healthy manner. While it can be hard to sacrifice precious time accomplishing your to-do list to do something else it's just part of the process.
block out distractions periodically
Turning off your phone and computer for a bit is one of the best ways to accomplish more in a given period of time. They can be tempting to check and often lead into a study break that lasted much longer than you anticipated.
prep the night before
Starting your to-do list, laying out your outfit, or even setting your alarm to go off a bit earlier are all great ways to prepare to be a superstar time manager the night before a big day. The sooner you get into a productive mind set the better as you will be racing yourself (and inevitably the clock) to get as much done as possible. Having an outfit ready to go in the morning is definitely a great time saver as is showering at night especially if you find yourself to be more productive in the morning.
So you've checked the boxes and couldn't possibly complete another task (until tomorrow that is) so now it is time to celebrate your successes. Whether that is a motivating cup of coffee or a relaxing night with friends you deserve to relax. You have to know when to quit and have some fun (or get some sleep) in order to feel the motivation to accomplish a lot at another time so watch a movie and paint your nails because quality me time and fun with friends are not to be neglected.
And lastly… be sure to schedule yourself into that hectic schedule. I can get so wrapped up in completing my to-do list and accomplishing everything that I forget to have some me time and enjoy myself. There have been weekends where my parents have to tell me to do something fun instead of sit in the library and study and let this be your reminder, have some fun. Chances are, you deserve it!