Attending those full days of classes and work, having extracurriculars, endless homework, and still attempting to have some ounce of a social life can be extremely difficult. However, it’s not impossible. With these time management tips you can learn how to organize your full plate and still leave room for dessert.
1. Figure out how your days are currently laid out.
When creating a schedule, the first step should always be seeing how your days are currently laid out. See how things are already working daily and then start rearranging for the added change (such as work or school). It’s a bit of trial and error, figuring out how long it takes you to do each task, but once you have that down, you’re well on your way to an efficient schedule.
2. Create a daily schedule (tailored for work, school, and weekend days).
Now that you know what your days look like, you can create a full schedule for them. It’s important to note that they’re not always going to look the same. Make sure to tailor your schedule for work, school, and free days. This way, when the days are different, you’re already prepared instead of playing catch-up.
3. Work in order of most to least important (or due soonest).
Always work in order of most to least important. If you’re given a handful of tasks at work, note what’s high priority, what your boss needs done first, or what might need to be delivered or have done by a certain time. The same goes for school. If you’ve got six assignments and don’t know where to start, look at what each one entails and arrange them from there. Also, make sure to pay close attention to due dates. You don’t want to find out the day before that your research paper must be at least 750 words and you weren’t accounting for something so detailed.
4. Make sure to put in buffers (lunch, traffic, personal time, schedule changes, etc.).
Always. Have. Buffers. This means have time in between your schedule for different things, some of which can be unanticipated. Whether it’s an appointment or class, you need to leave yourself wiggle room. Working as an assistant at a law firm for over a year and a half has taught me a lot about what people miss in their daily schedules. People tend to book themselves down to the minute and forget to leave time for even simple things like lunch. When you set up your schedule, you need to account for things like traffic, personal time, a change in schedule, and any other curveball that might be thrown your way. We all know our days don’t always go as plan, so why not be ready for things when life happens?
5. Learn to say ‘no’ when you’re already booked.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is saying ‘no.’ It’s human nature to want to please everyone, but it’s impossible to always do so. Sometimes we have to make hard choices and not everything can be a ‘yes.’ Learn when it’s best for you to say ‘no’ instead of overbooking yourself. As much as you might want to attend that event or take an extra class to get ahead, think about not only your schedule, but just what you personally can physically, mentally, and emotionally balance.
6. Try to avoid multitasking.
Another hard thing to avoid is multitasking. It sounds great at first but leads to a big mess. Writing that mid-term paper with Netflix on in the background isn’t exactly the best way to go when it counts for 30 percent of your grade. There are different ways to stay entertained while also getting to your work. Some people are very productive with their music blasting, while others can only handle soft classical music as background noise. It’s all about learning yourself and knowing how you focus best.
7. Start your days early if possible.
Last but certainly not least, try to start your days early. For the longest time, if I had nowhere to be, I’d sleep in until mid-day, thinking I’d feel well rested and get loads done. In reality, I just ended up feeling behind, as I’d already slept half the day away. Getting ahead can allow for extra free time later as well. Originally, you may have thought you’d have way too much homework to attend that event on campus, but if you get an early start, you might just make it. Even further than that, you must think about other people when it comes to your day. When are businesses open? When can you contact your professors? Will people still be there to talk to if your days start so late?
Author bio: MacKenzie Ferrell is a digital communication major at Saint Leo University. She hopes to pursue a career in graphic design and video/audio editing. She currently works as an assistant at The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. She loves Marvel, her favorite being Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man.