The Great Time Bandit

by

Part II: The Great Time Bandit
by N. Menendez, Meaghan Lally, Sonia Montenegro, and Melissa Rebullosa

“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.” – Unknown

Time, school, and personal success go hand in hand. It is essentially a balancing act and we all know that we have more things to do than time to do them.  One of the most important things to do is learning how to use your time efficiently and taking the maximum advantage of your schedule.

Tips to help you learn to manage your time more efficiently:

Create a Schedule and Time Outline

Sit down at the beginning of every quarter and familiarize yourself with your quarterly commitments. Get a monthly calendar and enter all of your due dates from class schedules along with other work deadlines or personal commitments. Every week break down your monthly schedule and look closely at all reading and assignments due. Also include personal meetings, kids soccer games, or your spouse’s commitments. Need a few extra hours for big assignments or special projects? Try taking an afternoon or day off work. Outline your week as closely as possible so you are able to realistically see how much time each day you can dedicate to your studies. Your first couple of weeks you will gradually learn what works and what does not. Write down a schedule and a time frame and try to stick with it. In following this schedule you set for yourself, you will learn how to efficiently get things done.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Everyone has a busy schedule with countless tasks making their way on to your to-do lists. It is important to prioritize when it comes to time and the things that you need to get done.  Write down everything you have due for the week and highlight what needs special attention and extra time. Things at the top of the list will be the more important things like the homework that is due first. If you have a paper due Wednesday and Friday, you will work on the paper that is due Wednesday first. It is important to prioritize and not lose valuable time working on something that is due later in the week than something that is due earlier.

Don’t Put Your Time in the Trash

Spend a few minutes thinking about how you usually manage your time throughout the day. Identify specific activities that you know waste your time. For instance, many individuals keep their emails open at all times. Every time you get an email, you read it and often become distracted and get off task. Instead set a small timer and only check your inbox every 30 minutes. Again, prioritize your emails and decided what, if anything, needs to be answered now and return to your emails once your school work is done. Have trouble staying off the phone while working? Turn your phone on silent and keep it in a different room. Simply eliminating a few time wasters can leave you with a few minutes to a few hours of extra personal or school time a day!

Oh, I’ll Just Do It Later

Procrastination is the biggest time killer of all. Often people push off big assignment to the last minute and become instantly overwhelmed by the little time left to finish. Try breaking larger assignments down into small tasks. Have a final paper due? Start it as soon as possible within the quarter. Trying having at least two drafts completed before even heading into the final week. Slowly working your way through larger projects allows a person to spend smaller more concentrated moments on the task.

Don’t be afraid of Saying No

You’re the person you child’s school always calls to make cupcakes for a bake sale or chaperone a trip to the zoo. While you would love to help out those who need it, don’t be afraid to decline if your schedule doesn’t allow. Politely say no and most people will completely understand.

Organize, Organize, Organize

Keep your schedule and workspace organized. The more unorganized you are, the harder it is to use your time wisely. There is nothing more irritating than trying to find a specific bill in a stack of week old mail or an old paper from quarters ago. Keep special folders, labeled files, and find an organizing system that you understand and works for you. Having specific places for everything allows you and your family to easily get what they need without spending time asking or searching.

I’ll Take My Fifteen Now

People often think that taking a break is a waste of time when they are rushed or busy. They couldn’t be more wrong! Every time you feel overwhelmed, your eyes get computer heavy, or you just can’t read one more line get up and take a quick break. Take the dog for a walk or simply get a fresh glass of water. When you take a few moments to that a breather, you will be able to return to your work with a revived mind.

Perfectionists Need Not Apply

Many times adult students get caught up on trying too hard to make everything perfect. They want to get straight A’s, get a promotion, and go to every single hockey game. But, realistically, this is probably not possible. Try to put time constraints on things. This may be really hard to do with everything you have going on but you also need to realize that you can only do your best.  Do your homework to the best of your abilities.  Not everything is going to be perfect and it does not need to be. As long as you try to finish your work to the best of your capabilities that is all that matters. Effort and quality trump quantity any day!

You scheduled the time – now use it to the maximum!

Take the time do things right the first time around. Don’t read the outline online instead of the chapter in your book. If you spend a few extra minutes really reading and understand your texts ahead of time, which leads to less time looking up things that may have been omitted from an outline or quick review. If you take a little extra time in the beginning, your lack of errors and completeness leave you time to make corrections and ensure that what you’re submitting is your best work.

Previously: Life, School, Work… The Great Juggling Act

Up next: Making the Most of Your Education

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3 Responses to “The Great Time Bandit”

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