Good time management is essential to every college or university student. Not only can it help you remain organized and do everything you need to do, it can help you avoid or reduce stress. While most students know and practice the basics of time management (using a calendar, planning, setting goals, etc.), there are some advanced strategies that can boost your effectiveness. These advanced strategies include:
- Being Proactive
- Seeing Time Management as Energy Management
- Using the 80/20 Rule to Prioritize Tasks
Combining these advanced techniques with the basics could help reduce stress and anxiety even further, while giving you a new view of time management.
Being proactive can help stave off any stress or anxiety associated with last-minute or even everyday tasks. It can also ensure you make the best use of your time. If you’re proactive, then you’re capable of staying in control or taking control of your schedule as needed. With a proactive approach, you’ll always be one-step-ahead and able to deal with any surprises.
A full calendar doesn’t represent time well spent. The quality of your activities matters much more than the quantity. Filling your calendar with high-quality tasks and/or activities will ensure that you’ll rarely need to be reactive. All your activities and/or tasks will be well-planned and worth your time. So, you won’t have to worry about rescheduling, scheduling or cancelling last-minute or less important activities. For example, constantly cramming in study time. With the proactive approach, you would follow a regular study schedule that is aided by a regular sleep and rest schedule. This will help you stay on top of your assignments and better prepare for exams.
Seeing Time Management as Energy Management
It takes energy to do anything. Basically, it’s impossible to spend the time if you don’t have the energy. And sometimes, the amount of time you have depends on the amount of energy you have. Thus, the more energetic you are, the more productive you are throughout the day. However, your productivity often depends on how that energy is used. For the most effective time and energy management, there are a few basic rules you should follow, including:
- Completing your tasks according to your brain activity and energy levels. For example, completing the most difficult or time-consuming tasks when you feel most focused, creative, etc. or completing the easiest, simplest tasks when you feel the most relaxed
- Categorizing tasks and activities according to the amount of focus and energy needed to complete them
- Planning healthy meals that contribute to your energy levels, while limiting “energy-sapping” foods, like sugar and caffeine
- Following a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at relatively the same times every day
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Using the 80/20 Rule to Prioritize Tasks
The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule suggests that 20% of your effort should amount to 80% of your outcomes. For example, completing the two most important tasks on a schedule or to-do list of ten tasks, should amount to the other eight tasks combined. Simply put, your tasks and activities should be prioritized and completed based on their level of importance. So, if your to-do list includes completing a major step for a project, doing the laundry, completing a small reading assignment and sleeping, then you should work on your project first. The rationale: since working on your project requires the most time and energy and could cause the most stress if neglected or left to the last minute, it’s more important than all the other tasks. In other words, it’s worth 80% of your time and effort. Additionally, it’s more than likely that pushing these small tasks to another time or day won’t induce nearly as much stress or anxiety. Plus, if you’re exhausted after working on the project, you could sleep without worry. This type of time management is the most effective use of your time.
Start changing the way you look at time management today for awesome results in your academic, professional and social lives.