If I’ve learned anything from my college years so far it’s how to manage my time. In fact, I’m convinced it’s the only reason I’ve maintained any ounce of sanity so far. Truth is, life can get pretty hectic, and juggling school, jobs, and home/life responsibilities, it can seem unmanageable at times.
That’s why I think that knowing how to organize your day is a life skill everyone should have, and yet one that we aren’t really taught. So, I wanted to share a step-by-step of my own time management system, in hopes that you can find it useful, or even get ideas for creating your own.
Write down tasks
First thing I do, even though it might seem very obvious, is to write down all of the pending tasks I have. For school, I usually just jot down the class I’m taking and list everything I have to do for that specific course underneath. This way, I never miss anything.
For this process you can either use a notebook, a calendar, or even your laptop. Personally, I organize my whole life using Notion, a note taking and workspace software that has been pretty popular over the last few years. What I love about Notion is that it allows me to have all my life organized in one single space that I can access any time I need, and that (most importantly for me) I can customize however I want.
After writing down my tasks, I like to include the due date, or when I would like to get a certain assignment done. This allows me to determine which one has a higher priority, and therefore allows me to organize them accordingly, because obviously, the closer the due date, the earlier I have to start.
Since you can usually tell how long a certain job might take, I like to estimate a time limit. This is because I also determine my task order depending on energy levels. For example, if I’m particularly tired one day, I’ll begin with a lighter or less intensive assignment that allows me to get into the flow, before moving on to a bigger one. I have found that forcing yourself to do a big task can be a major precursor for procrastination.
A big tip that you’ve probably already heard is to divide bigger tasks into smaller ones. For example, if I had an essay to redact, I would divide it in the following way:
- look for information [1h 30m]
- brainstorm [30m]
- write first draft [1h]
- revise [1h 30m]
Assign time sloTS
Now that your assignments are in order of priority, you can assign them a time slot. I will always recommend people to have a timetable (Google Calendar is pretty useful for this), because it helps you visualize your day, and what time you have available during it. Once you have your task and estimated time, assign when during the day you would like to get it done.
The power of breaks
I always try to schedule breaks between assignments. At least for me, these are essential in making them manageable and not getting overwhelmed, therefore increasing overall productivity.
Brace for unpredictability
A complaint I’ve heard other students have is that sometimes things come up during the day, and so they find it hard to follow a planned timetable or schedule. Days can be unpredictable, so that’s why the point of this system is that you can always play around, switch, or move tasks. As long as you feel that you are using your time in an efficient manner, all goes.
Although this is the system that has helped me tons, I always encourage people to create their own. This is because everyone is different and therefore will need a different approach to time management, since what I find useful might be a cause of stress for someone else. That being said, I hope this can be of help for your upcoming finals. And remember, you got this!