The chances are that you've come to terms with the inescapable truth: You only have 24 hours to complete the day's tasks. Time moves as straight as an arrow and, unfortunately, there's no way to bend it back — not even for a few minutes.
Mastering effective time management isn't just about being a productive worker. Its practice captures monetary and beneficial health rewards, too. After all, an hour wasted is an hour you can't get back. Let's take a closer look at time management in both an academic and a professional setting.
What Is Time Management?
Time management is all about maximizing the amount of time spent on each task and reducing the overall minutes wasted on distractions. Good time management skills can cut the fat from procrastination. Great time management skills create a workflow.
It's important, however, not to confuse time management with "crunch time." The goal is to create better habits, resulting in fewer minutes spent on time wasters and more on important tasks. Poor time management skills are what lead to crunch time, not the other way around.
The Importance of Time Management
Through better habits and techniques, less time is wasted and more time is allocated to everything else in your life. It may sound simple, but that one and only tenant has a cascading effect.
Imagine that you've spent the past month getting home late and everyone has eaten dinner by the time you walk in. Not only did you miss out on social interaction with friends and family but you've significantly reduced your free time. That snowball effect can pile on stress.
Deploy a few time management tips. Maybe cut your lunch short or keep bottles of water nearby to reduce time spent walking to the water cooler. It only takes a few tricks to get you punching out on time, eating dinner with your family, and having valuable time for yourself.
Reading between the lines, you'll reap benefits like:
- Turning in work on time
- Producing higher-quality work
- Achieving a productive workflow
- Lessening time wasters and procrastination
- Earning a better professional reputation
- Having less stress and anxiety
- Having a more rewarding work-life balance
Time Management for Students
In an academic setting, the largest storm to weather is the constant barrage of new concepts. It's an environment where learning is the focus. An employee generally has the important skills necessary to perform.
This creates a unique challenge students face: juggling multiple classes, all with unique due dates. It only strengthens the point of creating a hierarchy. Not every class requires the same amount of effort.
Tips for Boosting Productivity as a Student
Striking a balance between schoolwork and free time becomes more important as the year goes by. Poor time management skills can leave you with fewer hours of downtime each week. The benefits of time management can lead to less burnout, getting enough sleep, and having a fruitful personal life.
Stay Far Away From Multitasking
Why perform one task when you can do two, right? Unfortunately, it's a detriment rather than a service. You might have a buddy that says they multitask, but it's more likely the case that they're great with time management.
In fact, multitasking can hinder progress. And if progress is hindered, you've increased the amount of time it will take to complete specific tasks. You need to be prioritizing rather than juggling.
Adhere to a Schedule
Avoid multitasking by scheduling assignments. Sorry, but winging it won't cut it here. Poor scheduling leads to procrastination, lost hours, and crunch time.
When scheduling tasks, it's ideal to break down each assignment into small parts. A term paper, for example, should go through a series of rough drafts before the final is constructed. Schedule enough time to research one day and write the next. Also, set time aside to make necessary edits.
Create a Workspace
Without a proper workspace, you'll quickly fall into bad habits or waste time finding necessary materials. Before you get to work, turn off the TV, set your phone to silent, avoid social media, and gather all the required materials. Throw on a pair of headphones for music or silence.
Set Time Aside for Yourself
This tip is easy to implement but hard to master. The easy part? Kicking back and relaxing for a few minutes after you've completed a time-consuming task. The hard part? Knowing when to relax.
Consider using time management techniques, like the Flowtime Technique. Focus on one project and break it down into smaller parts. Keep working until you feel like you need a break. The length of the break extends the longer you've worked. For example, an hour of work nets you a 10-minute break. Working in those time frames allows for better work with less effort.
Time Management in the Workplace
While students aren't strangers to deadlines, the workplace is far more collaborative than school. If you miss a deadline in college, rarely does it affect your fellow students. The workplace is more akin to a machine, with you being one cog among many. And if one cog doesn't work, the others suffer.
Tips for Boosting Productivity at Work
Knowing the quality of your work and time sensitivity of the workplace can introduce higher stress levels. It's important to organize not only your space but also the time and efficiency of your tasks. Taking full advantage of effective time management skills will bring about a net positive in your personal and professional life.
Understand What's Eating Your Time
There's a wealth of knowledge one can obtain through auditing. How often do you stop at the water cooler for a drink? How many of those trips turn to idle chatter? Do certain tasks make you feel like procrastinating? Better decisions would be to store bottles of water at your desk or focus on what makes you drag your feet.
Separate Important Tasks From Urgent
While scheduling the day's tasks, it's crucial to separate important tasks from urgent ones and those that intersect. Those edits due on Friday? Since it's Monday, you can let the Future You take care of that while the Present You does today's work.
Know Your Limits
It's tempting to want to do a thousand tasks at once, but knowing your limits is important for you, your mental health, and your decision-making. Although it may sound scary, know when to say no. Extra points for suggesting a colleague who does have the time (and wants to do the work).
Create a Workflow Technique
In conjunction with scheduling a hierarchy for your workday, taking advantage of sound workflow techniques can really keep the job on track. One in particular, the Pomodoro Technique, is fantastic for project management.
Start by breaking up the flow of work into 25-minute segments. At the end of each segment, reward yourself a few moments of silence (no more than five minutes). After four successful segments, take a slightly longer break (no more than 10 minutes).
It's a wonderful way to hit set goals without overloading. In return, you can experience reduced stress and anxiety.
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It goes without saying: Software is incredibly helpful for taking control of your time. Skynova's accounting software, for example, can help automate tedious aspects of financial reports.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Work environments, personal health, and experiences differ from one person to the next.