“It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
– Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
The late Steve Jobs couldn’t be more right. Time is indeed the most valuable thing you give and receive. And the lack of it is probably the worst feeling ever. You do so much in a day as a student; you probably think you could be Superman. But yet you are never left with enough time to do it all, and some task or the other always spills on to the next day. This frustrating time loop that you’re stuck in sucks all your energy out and leaves you with a feeling that you’ve done a lot yet nothing at all in comparison to what you were supposed to do.
As hard as it may be to break out of this limbo, the malady of poor time management also has some quick fixes – useful hacks that can help you complete it all and still leave you with ample time to spare. Read on to discover the tips.
1. Create a To-Do List Every Day
Todoist, Any.Do, Calvetica, Wunderlist, etc. are just some of the apps that can help you create a neat and organized (and even kind of cute) daily chore list right on your smartphone. Most of these even come with in-built alarms and timers so that you can set aside a separate block of time for each of them and get gentle reminders when the time’s up. This will definitely help you speed through most of your tasks in a day such as finishing that chapter on biology, attending that taekwondo class and more.
2. Do the Important Ones First
Which of the chores on your to-do list are of highest priority? If you have a biology exam due tomorrow, you may want to finish studying that biology chapter first before doing anything else. The key here is to select at least two to three tasks to put into your ‘red alert – high priority’ list and do them before you move on to the next one. You’ll feel much more relaxed and relieved this way as you would’ve kick-started your day on a streak of success.
3. Have a Clock Right in Front of You
It’s easy to lose track of time, especially if you are indulging in one of those daily chores that you enjoy such as eating for example. For this reason, you should have a clock in front of you at all times, even if it’s the one on your phone. Although we do not recommend smartphone clocks as smartphones are distracting. And to finish all of your tasks on time, you need to restrict yourself in a distraction-free zone.
4. Find your own Time Zone
The best way to save time is to work during that period day (or night) when you feel most productive. Now this will require a little bit of trial and error on your part if you do not know your best hours yet. Once you find it out though, make sure you carry out the tasks you listed down in point number 2 right at this time. This is because you’ll be able to complete them much faster than your usual pace and quite frankly, you will be surprised at your own speed.
5. Sleep it Off
Wait, what? Did we hear you say ‘how am I supposed to get everything done if I just sleep?’ Well, here’s the thing. Sleeping eight hours every night is equal to a fresher – more energized ‘you’ every morning. And that version of you can take over the world if it gets down to it. You need your stamina to carry out these strenuous tasks each day. If you are still not convinced that this is the wisest thing to do, then take a look at some of the most famous names in history such as Beethoven who wouldn’t sacrifice his eight hours even if he had to perform at a concert the next day. Jennifer Lawrence and Matthew McConaughey are on this list too.
6. Chuck the Tasks that don’t Deserve your Time
You’ll be shocked to know the number of time-wasters you indulge in each day of your life. You don’t really need to check your mail every hour, especially when you are home. Neither do you have to hit like on a picture on Instagram every five minutes. Activities like these should take a backseat when you are trying to get your work done. If you find it hard to break this habit, delete the apps during exam or assignment season. Also, remove the bookmarks of these from your personal computer.
7. Divide and Rule – Break Down each Task into Small Bits
Got a 5000-word research paper to do? Instead of devoting endless hours of all your coming days to this one project, break up the task into smaller and manageable bits and portions so that you can finish it on time without neglecting the other chores on your timetable. But don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. Breaking your task is not going to make it magically smaller so that it consumes less of your time. Be flexible in your approach and accord extra time to it so that you do not face a crisis towards the end.
8. Don’t Say Yes to Everything
If it’s not important to attend that drama meeting after class when you have an assignment due the next day, then don’t attend it. Once in a while, when you are under a lot of pressure, it’s really okay just to say ‘no.’ Hanging out with friends can be rescheduled for another day and so can that big family Sunday lunch. Most of your time is lost to activities that are unnecessary due to your habit of saying yes to everything.
9. Just Do it Once
And make sure you do it right. From writing an assignment to copying notes and even studying for your exams, you don’t have to do these things two to three times. That is equivalent to wasting a lot of time. For example, if you are copying notes, don’t just dash them in a hurry so that they look untidy and illegible. Doing that means you’ll have to copy them again to do it again. Instead just do it once neatly so you can use the time you are left with to do something fruitful.
10. Take Your Work with You
This excludes any chores you may have to do at home such as cleaning, tidying your room, etc. But other things such as brushing up on a chapter or memorizing the script of your next play can easily be done anytime and anywhere. You can finish these tasks on your commute to college or even in between classes when you get some free time.
11. Do Similar Tasks Together
Take from example activities like copying notes in the library and creating a structure for your assignment – both are similar tasks as each of them involves writing and research. You should club such similar tasks together to the extent possible as you’ll be more efficient if you do them back to back rather than spacing them out throughout the length of the day. Spacing them out can make you feel tired as you will feel the same tasks again and again with little gaps in time. Clubbing them together, on the other hand, will help you finish them faster.
12. But do not Multitask
Multitasking may seem like a very attractive time-saving option, but it’s not. Multitasking is rather the opposite of efficient time management, and several studies have proved that it’s actually harmful for your brain. Plus, multitasking instead of increasing your attention span, so that you can do everything in the best way possible, decreases your attention span and leads to the production of poor quality work. So do not go down the multitasking road if time-saving is what you want. Just do one task at a time and let it all flow naturally.
13. Take Mini Breaks
Don’t just rush from one chore to the next. You’ll burn out at the start of the day itself and won’t have the strength to continue for the remainder of the day. So treat yourself to breaks between each task, and make sure that it lasts no longer than ten minutes at the max. Any longer than that and you will slump into laziness, giving up on you’re the next task altogether. Giving yourself a break of ten minutes though can refresh your mind and energize you for the next.
So these were the tips that can help you manage your time so well that you just zoom through everything like a cheetah. Remember, that your time is in your hands and that you can do anything and everything you want with it. All you need is determination and perseverance. It’s time to get started!
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