Written by Wenkai Zhang
It’s common for many students to finish their homework, projects, papers very close to the deadline. Simple reason – people are busy. Sometimes, there just seems to be not enough time to complete a task. However, some students can efficiently handle many tasks and take them to completion. How do they do it? The key is “Effective Time Management”.
Setting aside specific amounts of time everyday for each task can help students structure their academics, work, and life in a way that allows them to accomplish goals. This is a particularly important skill, especially for graduate students who have many things to handle besides studying.
So how do we acquire effective time management skills? Here are a few tips:
- Organization – Staying organized can help us maintain a clear picture of what we need to complete and when.
For example, creating events on my calendar for every task that I have to do helps me stay organized. I usually do this every night to plan out the next day. If I have a big task, I divide it into smaller sub-tasks and make some notes on each sub-task. And I keep updating the calendar as I finish important tasks.
- Prioritization – Assessing the priority of each of our tasks is crucial.
There are many ways to prioritize what we need to accomplish. We might decide to complete quicker and simpler items first, followed by the complicated ones which may take longer. Alternatively, we can start by working on the most important and challenging tasks first. Tackling the most difficult tasks first, when we are energetic and fresh increases our chances of completing them. The feeling of accomplishment we’ll get from finishing off an assignment and doing it well can help us complete other tasks as the day goes on.
- Goal setting – Goal setting helps us clearly understand our “destination”.
First, we need to decide what interests or excites us. It could be a big thing or a small thing – sometimes it is easier to get going with something small. Then we could write it down, which will increase our chances of sticking with them. Or we could tell someone we know about our goals and they can supervise us.
- Concentration – Remain focused on the task at hand.
Nowadays, people easily get distracted, because of the availability of so many social media platforms and apps. It is the same reason why many students complain that they could not focus on remote study. Avoid constantly checking your phone or email. These distractions prevent us from focusing specifically on any given task and make it impossible to complete any task as efficiently as we would if our attention were undivided. We’ll find that we’re able to accomplish a task faster, and possibly better, when we don’t split our attention.
- Politely say “no” when someone asks you to do something or invites you to events, which are not relevant to your goal. It is important to practice having boundaries in order to manage our time well and ultimately accomplish our goals.
Let me narrate a personal experience here. Originally, I was afraid to say “no” or reject people’s invitation even when I was busy. Once my good friend John asked me to attend his party. I had a lot of work that had to be finished that night. But I did not know how to refuse him, and I also thought he may be upset if I decline. So, I decided to attend his party, but my mind was stressed because of all the unfinished work. I couldn’t enjoy the party and felt upset, which hurt John’s heart. After I explained my worries to him, he felt better and told me that in future I could directly tell him, and he would understand my situation.
- Relaxation – Don’t forget to give yourself a break.
We’re all striving at work and at home, and we need some down time. A break at work can clear our head, recharge our energy, and allow us to come back and look at things with fresh eyes.
Improving time management skills can help us be a better worker and have the ability to focus fully as we go about our day. If we can follow the above tips, it will not be hard to master the skill of effective time management.
- “10 TIPS FOR MANAGING TIME EFFECTIVELY” https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/10-tips-for-managing-time-effectively.php
- “Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management” https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1042&title=Time%20Management:%2010%20Strategies%20for%20Better%20Time%20Management
- “8 time management tips to grow your small business“ https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/employees/8-tips-for-effective-time-management/
- “Set our goals and make them happen” //www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/set-our-goals-and-make-them-happen
- Photo from [https://woc.aises.org/content/time-management-tips-busy-professionals]