Time is a weird concept. Though a lifetime seems infinite while we are young, none of us has enough time to get routine things done. An average student fails to complete at least a part of his or her homework. A working student can hardly combine a job and studying without sacrificing sleep or other essentials. Still, I believe that effective time management is realistic for us all.
In this post, I will discuss a few strategies that have helped me become a more productive student. Also, I will mention some extraordinary time management tips that are often ignored but have a terrific impact on everyone’s productivity. But now, we will start from more conventional habits that will help you get things done.
Know your most productive hours
Mark Twain once said it’s best to do the most important tasks first thing in the morning. This rule, however, does not work for everyone. You will never reach success if you force yourself to work in the morning but your most productive time is actually in the afternoon. Personally, I find it easier to do creative projects and process information after 3 pm and until about 9 pm. In the morning, I’m a sleepy owl that pretends to look attentive in the first couple of classes. For me, this is a paramount time management strategy: to do work when you are ready for it.
Keep track of what you do
Trying to motivate yourself and escape procrastination, give a daily report to yourself. As you finish your tasks, contrast how much you’ve done against how much you planned to complete. This way, you will see for yourself how destructive your procrastination is. Or, maybe, your planning is a bit unrealistic. If you want to develop reasonable time management skills, do not underperform but also do not over plan. Setting reasonable goals is fundamental if you intend to meet them at least sometimes. Personally, I got much more aware of how I should plan my time after I had started summing up my achievements at the end of the day.
Make to-do lists for tomorrow
When you have analyzed your performance for today, it is the right time to set a reasonable goal for tomorrow. I found this way of planning perfect for evenings, as I know exactly what projects are critical and what tasks are merely important. Planning your activity for the next day works well for a student—you already know your workload and nothing new will be assigned to you overnight. That is why I say planning is an easy improvement of time management for students. Just remember not to put too many items on your list.
Break up large projects into parts
When I have something massive on my to-do list, I never assume I can do it right away. Sometimes, I get too exhausted by these long school projects, so I need more time to rest or distract myself. I recommend you to try breaking up large assignments into small parts and complete them, let’s say, in a week. Your task is not to overload yourself but to make complex projects simple and doable. I believe this strategy helps a lot in overcoming procrastination because a huge piece of work will not scare you any more.
If you conducted any research on time management for college students, these tips may seem already familiar to you. Here are some less obvious ways to be more productive with your tasks.
One of the productivity books I have been recently reading said that mostly happy people become successful in what they do. Though being happy can be even harder than being productive, the statement makes sense to me. We are not robots that have no other needs but to perform well. Each of us requires physical well-being and emotional comfort to concentrate on things such as work or studying.
Lately, I tried sleeping 2 more hours at night, exercising 15 minutes every morning, and eating some slow food every day. I must admit that my mood, as well as university performance, improved significantly since trying it out. Keeping your needs in balance is one of the paramount time management skills for students and everyone else. Take good care of yourself and you will find the energy to complete the most challenging tasks.
Stop being perfect
Perfectionism is a major killer of performance. While you try hard to polish every task, there is less time left for other assignments on your list. It is important to bring high quality to your work, but it is counterproductive to expect perfection in everything you do. Some of your projects may be done better than others, and it happens to many other people. Do not let perfectionism impair the time management activities you’ve selected to implement.
Do fewer tasks
While reaching for perfection can hamper your performance, trying to complete as many tasks as possible is another stone in your road to success. You need to find the middle ground between doing one super-polished project that made you sick and a whole lot of activities you do anyhow. This is a simple way to improve your time management in college. You have only 24 hours in your day and you definitely cannot spend all of them on your homework. Therefore, carefully choose the tasks you do today and estimate your workload realistically.
Among all the time management strategies I give in this post, this one is my favorite. All of us need inspiration to be creative and motivated to work to the best of our abilities. To achieve all this, recharge your inner batteries regularly. Go out to have fun with friends or stay in and watch movies. Find the activity you will love and get energy from. Personally, I have a lot of fun playing quiz games. They help me stay smart, social, and cheerful—they nourish all the qualities I like about myself. I believe that loving what you do is a true way to success in life. Enthusiasm is your only cure for burnout.
Our productivity greatly depends on the energy we have in us. You cannot work effectively when you are physically exhausted or emotionally devastated. The straightway to productivity is to manage your energy not your time. We all probably have enough hours to do important things every day, and we all can choose to deploy our energy wisely.