Three Timeless Time Management Tips We Swear By
The staff here at ETSU Online have chosen their favorite time management tips and tricks to share with you. They won’t fit on candy hearts, though. Sorry about that.
Tip #1 – Work in Increments
A lot of times we’re faced with tasks that seem overwhelming. Sometimes we’re faced with several of them. Our advice is something along the lines of what Lewis Carroll wrote in “Alice in Wonderland:”
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
It’s not usually possible to finish an entire task, or study all of the material for a test, or write an entire paper in one sitting, but an hour is always an hour. So, schedule a time to work exclusively on your task without interruption, go on until you come to the end, then stop. Repeat as many times as necessary until your task is done.
This is especially helpful because it helps you think of how your tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This is especially difficult because you can’t do it unless YOU PLAN AHEAD, and stick (roughly) to the plan. Otherwise you’ll find yourself out of time.
Tip #2 – Make a List; Check it Occasionally
We aren’t slaves to our lists, and we don’t think you should be either. Still list making has some huge benefits.
First, writing down everything you need and want to do may help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control. Second, seeing your commitments and responsibilities on paper will help you prioritize. Third, there are always tasks that seem to be worse than they really are (for me, that’s almost any phone call I need to make). Seeing it written down makes it seem less scary.
You may find that you’re immediately able to go through your list and take care of all of the tasks that take less than five minutes each. Presto! Within an hour, you’ve made a serious dent in your to-do list.
For other projects, schedule them (using what you’ve learned in Tip #1). And stick to your schedule.
Wherever you keep your list, add to it when new items come in. You can use a small notebook with actual paper, the native note taking app on your phone or tablet, or specialized apps like Evernote or Wunderlist.
Review your list when a) you have no idea what you need to do next, and/or b) at regular intervals, whether it’s daily, every other day, weekly, or only on Tuesdays when the moon is gibbous. It’s entirely up to you and what works best for you.
Super tip: Only one list. If you have multiple pieces of paper or notes on your phone and on paper, you’ll likely feel the opposite of being in control.
Tip #3 – Know Thyself
If you’re a procrastinator, own it. Learn to work with it. It’s great to have a goal not to procrastinate, but if you’re really a procrastinator, you probably haven’t gotten around to it yet. Habits don’t change overnight.
So own it. Learn to work with it. When are you most likely to procrastinate? Is it late afternoon? Mid-morning? What tasks usually trigger your urge to do something (anything!) else? Knowing the answers to these questions may help you schedule tasks when you’re most likely to get them done. If you know what specific tasks you tend to avoid like most kids avoid vegetables, you can schedule it right before a break or lunch (or the after hours get together). If you know that as soon as you complete the task, you’re free for a while, you may be more likely to get it done.
These three tips (usually) keep us out of trouble and from being so far behind that we’re staring at our own behinds. What tips would you add?