By Melissa Stefanec
This pandemic has taught just how much we need each other. And, after months of social deprivation, it’s easy to indulge yourself in human interaction. After more than a year of weighing the risks of every social outing, it can be tempting to feel safe and want to say yes to everything.
The pandemic and ensuing shutdowns gave us lot more of something that was once scarce in the pre-pandemic era—time. Now, as we hope to resume our typical lives, time management becomes a skill we need to possess to navigate our personal wants and need.
What is time management? Put simply, it’s how you spend your time. People who are good at time management recognize they must take control of their schedules and be mindful how they spend their time.
Afterall, time is a precious resource, and there are plenty of things that demand it. Things like school, studying, work, family, clubs, volunteering, sports, friends and social interactions can all demand your time.
However, if you don’t manage your time wisely, it’s difficult to achieve your goals. Conversely, if you can learn to effectively manage your time as a college student, you will have a professional and personal edge.
That’s easier said than done. Under normal circumstances, effectively managing your time can be difficult. As a college student, managing your time after a global shutdown can feel downright impossible. However, it’s quite possible you just need a few hacks.
Here are some ideas of how to clear enough time in your schedule for your needs and wants. Start with a paper or digital planner and think about the following items:
• Plot out your weekly educational obligations
At the start of each week, look over your coursework and assignments and get your head around things. (Pro tip: you will have to look at short- and long-term assignments to ensure you start assignments early enough.) When are your assignments due? How much time do you need to work on each one? When do you have to start each assignment to in order to finish on time? Use a project management hack and work backward. Look at the due dates of your work and work backward on the calendar to make sure you have enough time to complete each assignment.
• Plot out any additional work or family obligations
If you have a job or any personal obligations, fit them into your schedule. Obligations are not negotiable, so you need to understand how they affect your weekly calendar.
• Make a personal bucket list for each week
Now that you have your obligations laid out, start thinking about the fun stuff. In any given week, there are a lot of exciting things to say yes to. But saying yes to everything will likely leave you feeling strung out and depleted. So, at the beginning of each week, make yourself a bucket list of things you want to do. These should be things that will make you happy and fulfill you.
• Make yourself a daily schedule
Now that you have mapped out your obligations and your bucket-list items, you can make yourself a daily schedule. Once your record this schedule, do everything you can to stick to it.
• Practice the art of saying no
You will often find yourself wanting to do more than you have time for. When you have too many options and not enough bandwidth, it’s as good as a time as any to learn the magical art of saying no. Don’t be afraid to say no to invitations. Your sanity will depend on it.
• Ask yourself if you really want to do something
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to say no to, ask yourself why you want to say yes to something. Will saying yes actually mean having fun? Will it be rewarding? Will it enrich your life? Will it leave you feeling drained? Why do you want to do this activity? If you can answer some tough questions about your social opportunities, you will have some easy decisions to make.
• Get enough sleep
When you are tired, even the tamest of schedules can feel overwhelming. Sleep is such an integral part of being a functional human being. If things in your schedule are robbing you of rest, you should re-evaluate the importance of those things.
• Don’t blow too much time on your phone
There are so many ways to waste your valuable time, so watch out for derailers. One of the worst derailers is your phone. Scrolling through social media, shopping, streaming videos and reading blogs are just a few things can suck time away from you. If these sorts of activities are important to you, that’s fine. Just give yourself time in your schedule for them and create healthy time boundaries for these activities.
• Make checklists
Some people thrive on checklists. The satisfaction of checking something off just gives them pleasure. If you are one of those people, put all your daily obligations in checklist form. Then you can feel the sweet satisfaction of crossing things off.
• Make exercise a personal obligation
Exercising will likely make you more efficient and happier. Add exercising to your list of obligations and make time for it. You won’t regret it.
• Lastly, don’t let setbacks keep you from trying
Improving your time-management skills is a life-long endeavor. When you mess up or derail your plan, don’t use that minor failure as an excuse to stop managing your time. Keep working at it, and the benefits will be all of the reward you need.