Managing Your Time

Managing my time is often my greatest weakness.  Every time my grades are less than I hoped or I fail to complete my weekly goals, I can always trace the failures back to a wrong decision of how I used my time.  However, I learned very quickly afterwards how I can accomplish everything I need to do, and when I follow this new game plan, it's made me successful in many areas.

Some of you may have no clue where to start managing your time, and others may just need a reminder of some short tips to keep you on track.  Whatever the case, you can follow these ideas behind planning your upcoming tasks.

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Prioritize
Going into each day, week, month, and semester, it's essential that you know what classes will be your hardest and what responsibilities are most important.  This does not necessarily mean that you must accomplish activities in these areas chronologically before others, but rather you should allocate enough time to tackle them instead of planning other things to do.  Regardless, knowing what has to be done versus what could be done in a day will make a difference.

To-Do Lists
For a very organized person like myself, lists are easy to follow and help one see their daily goals.  On my list, I have two sections.  The first section is a schedule that tells me what I am doing in various time frames.  Hours of classes, hours I plan to study, hours I will be at church, etc.  The second section is comprised of open boxes of various other tasks that I need to do, but timing is not important.  To me, crossing off tasks from lists are a satisfying way to feel minor successes from day to day.  

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Discipline
Sometimes I had everything written down of what I needed to do but didn't do any of it.  This was not an organizational issue, but a discipline problem.  I made my own reward system to overcome this battle.  For example, in order for me to earn the right to go play basketball in the afternoon, I had to finish a study guide for a test I had the next day.  It sounds uncanny, but get to the point where you feel guilty for not fulfilling your responsibilities.  

Calendars
For me, I use both online and written calendars.  Setting reminders and receiving notifications on your phone calendars keeps you updated on every important events in your life at the push of a few buttons.  I also have a dry-erase board calendar hanging by the door to my apartment.  This helps to give me an idea of what I need to do before the week is over, mainly so I don't get carried away talking to people instead of preparing for a test.

A very helpful part of having an organized schedule is that you can plan your free time.  You could use this time talking to a friend you've been too busy to see or watching a Netflix or Hulu show to take a mental break.  Maybe life happens, and you have to do something important that you weren't planning on, and having that open window of time could save you from getting behind.

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Hopefully these tips will be helpful if life is overwhelming.  While some things in life are a priority, it's important to relax and take breaks every now and then.  Exercise to let some stress out, FaceTime your dog back home, or treat yourself to ice cream.  Ultimately, time management is about balance.  You want to organize your time in such a way that you can accomplish everything you need to do and enjoy life along the way.

Tyler,
Still learning how to use Google Calendar