Time management is a skill that comes easily to some but is a foreign concept to others. I’m sure we all have that one friend (or maybe you are that friend!) who always waits until the last minute to do everything. You all know what I’m talking about. The temptress of time management skills: procrastination.
Now, maybe you’re reading this and internally pointing a few fingers at yourself, and that’s entirely okay. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? But seriously—everyone battles with that slick monster that somehow always manages to sneak in and get us off focus and, in the end, leaves us rushing to meet our deadlines. In our world, everything revolves around the one thing we never seem to have enough of: time. And more often than not, we are too quick to push off work that we’d rather not be doing, and it snowballs into one giant accumulation that we just can’t outrun.
So how can we deal with this lack of productivity? Is it really possible to learn how to make the most of our time, to stay on top and on track of all of the deadlines we face on a daily basis?
The answer is yes. It may not be easy, but with a little dedication, anyone can become a master in the field of time management. As someone who can’t stand to be weighed down by accumulated deadlines, but is also familiar to the vices of procrastination, I have a few techniques you can use to help you battle this bad habit and make the most of your time.
1. Schedule, schedule, schedule!!!
Keeping track of your schedule is the first and most important technique when it comes to managing your time better. Do yourself a favor and invest in a planner; you won’t regret it. While using a planner may seem a little bit cheesy, it’s a great way to remember and keep track of everything you have going on. Don’t just plan out basic things, like what days you have a hair appointment or when your next visit to the dentist is. Get into the practice of using it for your classes as well. In my personal planner, I keep track of after-school activities and any sports events or concerts I have to attend. I also pencil in my work schedule, and then I write down all of my class assignments. And I color code everything.
While this may sound a little intense at first, making a list and getting things out of your head and on paper really helps you feel more in control of your situation and helps alleviate stress levels. Once it’s all written out in your planner, you can see what conflicts you have and what moments you have free, then you can rework to make everything as convenient as possible and stay on top of those deadlines.
The next technique that is really going to help get you started on your path to better time management is learning to prioritize. Now that you have everything laid out in your planner so it’s easy and convenient to view, figure out which things are most important and complete those tasks first. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to start working on a presentation that isn’t due until the end of the month when you have a test you need to study for that’s coming up the following week. Study for the test first, because the deadline is more prominent, and then you can make that next move to get a head start on your project. The ability to prioritize will take you a long way in life. Figure out the things that are the most important to you, and make time for them, but be careful not to neglect other responsibilities.
3. Get motivated
This may be the hardest step in becoming a better time manager. In order to get things done, you have to actually have the motivation to do them. This takes discipline and some serious work ethic, and even then, sometimes it’s still not enough. When I find myself with a complete and utter lack of motivation, I like to make a sort of reward system for myself and find ways to make getting work done a little more interesting.
Reading is something I particularly enjoy doing in my free time. So a lot of the time, when I really need some motivation, I make a deal with myself: do the work, then you get to read. Or, do this project, and you can buy yourself a new book. This really helps get me motivated. Sometimes it can be even simpler, like watching Netflix while simultaneously doing my math homework, or studying in segments with breaks in between. I’ve even seen people use candy to reward themselves as a treat after they hit a certain checkpoint in their work and/or studies.
While these three things won’t make you a master at time management right off the bat, they will definitely help you get started and stay on the right track. I have been putting these three methods into practice throughout all my years of education, and even though I still occasionally fall into a procrastination slump, I have always been able to manage my time well and stay on top of all of my deadlines, both in school and beyond.
Putting these skills into practice will not just help you succeed in the educational world but in all aspects of life. With the school year coming to a close, and, for many of us, college right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to pull yourself into action and try out these time management techniques for yourself.