If there is one thing I wish I had more of, its time. See my previous post on this topic, Ticktock! for a decent example of just how easy it is to get pulled under by too much to do.
For now however, take a seat, and take notes. I have a fairly decent time management method that I use to keep myself on track during full time college courses!
One of the best courses I took at the beginning of my college education, was called guidance. It was a course on how to be successful in college, how to time manage, and other miscellaneous tips of choosing a university and choosing the right courses in correspondence to your university of choice. I was given examples of time management sheets to print up (of which I will add for you to save/print yourself after this post), but the rest of time management, outside of all of the time you could waste planning to save time, is YOU!
I’ll get to the lists, schedules, and logistics of managing your time, but first ask yourself this, what distracts you? I’m sure countless things could distract you, and if you’re anything like me, the top of that list is your phone. I will seriously lose hours on my phone, stuck like a bug to a light. There are other things as well that can distract someone who isn’t in the right mindset to focus in the first place. I’ve cleaned up the documents and pictures on my computers desktop so that I could focus better with a more functional computer in front of me. I’ve cleaned my entire room in an effort to eliminate that medial to-do list, because if I get it done I wont be distracted by knowing I need to do it. It’s a serious problem, and I’m going to jump right into assuming that I’m not the only one who goes out of their way to put off that anthropology reading assignment until the last minute, because when was the last time I really dusted that book shelf?
So the first thing you should do is schedule in some early morning time for yourself. Wake up, make your morning trip to the bathroom, make your morning cup of coffee, spend no more than 15 minutes checking in on social media, grab a bite to eat, strike a yoga pose, and after (at the most) two hours, jump into your previously dictated school schedule.
Put it up on your wall, schedule it into your phone, keep a copy on you at all times, follow it always.
That school schedule, will need revising every Sunday night. That process should go as follows:
- Figure out all the requirements for completing your assignments for the week, and when those assignments are due. Make a check list of these assignments in order of which is due first. Were going to base this off of being a full time online student.
- Discover what other physical obligations will interrupt reading or studying for those assignments. Perhaps you have one on campus class, Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30am – 11:00am in the morning. On the time management chart that I will provide for you, decided when it is best to accomplish each task needed to complete your assignments.
- When you wake up on Monday morning everything is going to fall right into place (after a full nights rest! Sleep is one of the top three most important factors here!); which is your new favorite day of the week because that assignment that stressed you out last weekend, that was due on Friday at midnight, is toast and Monday is your chance to hit the restart button!
- Waking up, and accomplishing even the remedial morning tasks on your list is going to set you up for feeling accomplished. Getting yourself into the routine of your morning is going to feel invigorating. Wake up on time? Check. Use bathroom/bathroom needs? Check. Make coffee while checking social media? Check. Grab a bite, because one of the top three most important things is that you DON’T FORGET TO EAT! Check. Seriously though, eating is time consuming, and you may feel like you can put it off for just a little longer, but don’t. In the case of putting your body last, your ability to focus, grasp the material in front of you, or complete an assignment successfully nearly crumbles. Checking off all of these minor tasks before you begin to study, will gear you up for accomplishing your bigger daily goals.
- Do not allow yourself to become distracted. Remind yourself that you just checked your phone, it cant do anything more for you, in fact put it on silent, face down behind you somewhere. No seeing it light up, no sound, no distraction, and if you have a significant other who demands your undivided attention, ask them if they are hiring. If you have outside sources of distraction from loved ones who do not value your educational success, ask them if they are willing to provide you with the job you are aiming to achieve through your preferred interest of study. I have two young boys under five years old, a new kitten, and a very demanding two year old special needs cat, but I know that it is in my best interest if I make the arrangements necessary to have them cared for while I am at school.
- EAT! Write it down on your time management sheet as a to do, stick it in right at lunch time and then when the time comes around, don’t put it off. Also, the third of the most important things, is water. Stay hydrated! Coffee and energy drinks perk you up and get your body going but water will keep your brain going so don’t neglect to drink plenty of water!
- Pick a decent evening hour to STOP. Just like a job, you’ve got to go home, you cant work forever. As an online student I had a difficult time knowing when enough was enough. I would wake up and start checking off my list of needs to complete assignments, find this many sources on this topic, peer review that paper, read these chapters, answer those in text questions, and suddenly it was 8pm! My brain was mush and my body was burnt out by then. I start at nine am, take an hour to eat at noon, and then stop working on assignments around four or five depending on how heavy my work load is that week. If its a big assignment, like a midterm paper, I spare more time for more studying. When it comes down to reality though, I don’t want to miss dinner with my kids, and tucking them in, and then having at least an hour before I go to bed to read or at least do something for myself.
- SLEEP! Don’t let this opportunity to distract yourself keep you up doing too many personal things. Time manage what you do after course work. Decide how much ME time you will have before your bed time. Sleep will make or break you from the start. Hitting the snooze button is playing with fire, and sleeping in will kick your entire schedule down later into the day. If you sleep in an hour longer, then you are getting started an hour later. Everything shifts, leading you to a late night of school work, missing the kids schedule, and being too tired to read a chapter of your current read. “But I want some time to myself so I’m going to stay up too late again…” PLEASE BE KIND TO YOURSELF. I don’t need to ask you to get good sleep for me, this is for you, so love you enough to keep up with the routine you set up for yourself.
This looks like a lot, and it seems fairly simple, and a lot like something you may already be aware of, but I like to think of this post like one of those motivational text posts. You know, lets assume you’ve heard the quote “do what is right, not what is easy” and it was something you found yourself wishing you could recall when you needed it, so you archive it in your phone to reference, but until you see it again it slips your mind. What I’m getting at here, is it is too easy to archive the right things to do in the part of our minds where we keep things for later, but in the moment when we are struggling for time or focus, we forget the easiest tools to access, ourselves and what we already know. If you need organized advice, or a reminder on how to better time manage, feel free to stop in to get your barrings again in the future.