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How do you learn proper work ethic and time managment?

I'm a junior who feels very lost about her own education and future. I already have terrible work/time management and somehow fall behind in everything. Not only does it affect my education but personal life/mental health.
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10 answers

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Deirdre’s Answer

Many people struggle with this, myself included sometimes. It can be helpful to see if there are any common threads to when you start to feel overwhelmed and/or start to procrastinate. If there are you can figure out how to break the cycle.

Breaking tasks/projects into smaller chunks can be a great tactic for getting motivated.
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George’s Answer

Hey Nusrat,
Your question struck a nerve with me because I've struggled with the same issues. I have learned a few lessons along the way and hope these will be useful for you:

- Check your health: I have severe allergies that affect how I sleep and feel throughout the day. Feeling sleepy during the say will affect your enthusiasm and decision making the entire day like bad dominos. Ensure that your body is in the right shape to accomplish your goals
- Have a dream: I don't care if you want to play basketball for the US team at the Olympics or fly out to space with Jeff Bezos. Have 1 or 2 dreams and decide to commit to them.
- Have a short term Goal: Difference between a dream and a goal is that a goal is something you can commit to, plan and achieve.
-- Don't have too many goals.
-- Research what it takes to be successful. Pivot if achieving the goal is unrealistic.
-- Make a plan to achieve your goal.
- Write things down: "A short pencil is better than a long memory" Writing things down makes things real. You have to turn a dream into a goal and a goal into a plan. A plan must be laid out (or typed out) for you to reference and share.
- Plan ahead: You won't be 13 forever. Have milestones for where you want to be at a certain age.
- Be reliable. As an adult, you have less room for excuses and lies. You need to be counted on by your family, friends and coworkers. Don't be the guy that's 10 mins late to everything, doesn't contribute on group projects and forgets people's birthdays.

Good Luck!

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Michelle’s Answer

You are not alone. Even adults have a hard time managing their time, LOL. For me, what helps is having a physical planner. I have tried digital planners before and it isn't as effective. I like seeing the tasks I needed to do written down so I can check them off my list. You can try if the paper planner will work well better for you.

Try prioritizing your tasks for the day. Set aside time to accomplish your top 3 goals. These are things that you HAVE to accomplish. It could be a project to do, a paper that you need to write, or a test that you need to study for. Focus on knocking off your top 3 priorities and your day is off to a great start. I find that once I have accomplished all 3, I find more energy, determination, and motivation to knock everything else off my list.

Another tip is to set a timer on yourself for non-essential tasks like scrolling through social media, playing games, etc. I set a timer for 15 minutes when scrolling through social media because I find that I can easily get lost there and before I know it, time has already gone by without me accomplishing anything.

Put your phone on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode while you're hard at work on knocking off your tasks for the day. It keeps your mind focused with no distractions from your phone. Let's face it, when someone texts us, we don't just look at the text and reply. We tend to look at other things too and before we know it, it's tough to get back to what we were doing before that.

Also, you may want to write down your goals where you can see them everyday. It will help keep your mind focused and your motivation up. You are telling your brain what it needs to go after.
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Brayden’s Answer


I would say that I think a lot of people feel the same way you do. Life is difficult so finding motivation to do something can be challenging. There are different ways to find motivation to complete something. It can be in terms of a reward thats awarded once the task has been completed, or you can find it in competition, whether thats against someone else or yourself. I find the best motivation for me in internal. Im always motivating myself to strive to be the best version of myself that I can. Doing it this way can be challenging at first because it is up to you to find that motivation and be aware of times where you are not getting the task done in a timely manner. One of the challenges of this method of motivation is being aware and catching yourself slipping back into your old self.

When it comes to time management its something I still struggle with but im constantly trying to find ways to be better at managing my time. The best way I found to manage time is giving yourself a time limit to work and only doing that task during that time. In todays world with so many distractions (phone, TV, family, etc.) working for long periods of time without being uninterrupted can be challenging. To get around this I set a time say 30min and work for as hard as I can during that time. Once the timer is up I asses what Im doing and determine how much more time Ill need to complete the task. From there setting more timers and simply being aware of how long it takes to complete basic tasks will greatly help with time managment.

Hope this helps!
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Jennifer’s Answer

This is an amazing question and one that many books and articles have been written. Things that work well for one person might not work as well for another. I love all the options that were provided and I think you should pick one to try and see how it works for you.

One additional piece of advice I would give is to not give up on the option too quickly. Sometimes the change that is needed is your mindset on why you are doing this. It could be that you just don't see it as important or have the "don't want tos" (i definitely get these days). Even for the things you don't want to do, focus on why you should. Maybe it is studying for a test or cleaning your room. Try to remember how you felt the time you got an A on the test you studied for or how you had a friend visit and you had just cleaned your room.

I agree with the previous comment about writing down things as they come to you (brain dump). I like to keep a pad of paper or a post it pad next to me to help me write down something that comes in my head so I can continue with what I am doing. When I finish that task, I recheck my list to decide what to do next. I like lists so I can see at the end of the day what I did accomplish. I also try to mix between doing a task I have to do and a task I want to do.
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Suzanne Egg’s Answer

This is a skill everyone needs and is constantly working on to improve. Many opinions and tools but you have to figure out what is right for you and stick to it. Over the years I continue to fine tune this skill. Personally, making a list of all your "to dos" and then putting them in buckets. You have to prioritize so you know what you have to get done. What are those critical tasks that make a difference in your life and then the 2nd tier of what you need to get done but not necessarily the priority then the tasks that are just overall distractions. When you start each day, know what you HAVE TO get done for success. Every week go back and look at your list, and ensure you followed through. And if you did not, what were the distractions. It is important to look at your success and failure so you can learn from it. I personally like to write things down, but many can use their online calendars and tasks to keep themselves on point. Again its very personal. Here is a great class called "5 choices for extraordinary productivity" that I found very helpful. I personalized it to meet my needs but a good reminder and great tools. Don't be hard on yourself, it takes time to create new habits. I just find writing to be therapeutic to get it all on paper and then work from there. And then prioritize and put in my outlook calendar to block out parts of my day to focus on the priorities. You will get there and it is something many struggle with. Just takes some time and discipline and then you will feel so much better. You have to hold yourself accountable and maybe have a friend work with you on this so you have someone to discuss what worked or did not. We learn so much from our failure so don't be hard on yourself. You will get there, you took a the hardest step of recognizing what you are doing is not working and need advise on how to be successful.
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Cora’s Answer

Hi Nusrat, thanks for reaching out. You're not alone in this - many people struggle with time management and work ethic.

One thing that helps me is to do a "brain dump" exercise - spend about 10 minutes writing down everything that's on your mind, including everything that you have to get done and any other stressors you might be feeling. After that, you can circle the tasks that you need to get done, like homework, chores, etc. Then, prioritize them by ranking them from most important and least important. This can help you identify what really needs to get done and what's just filling up your headspace unnecessarily.

Feeling motivated to do the tasks can be hard, but it helps me to remind myself what these tasks will get me at the end of the day - will finishing this project help increase your grade in Math, or will studying for an upcoming test help you make time for an activity you really like to do, like meeting up with a friend?

Remember that feeling a little lost about your education is normal too. For this, try to identify what it is about certain projects or subjects in school that you like more than others. Follow what interests you and what you feel curious about, and research more into those areas. Who knows, maybe you'll find something about yourself that could inform your future career. Good luck!
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Rebecca’s Answer

Hi, first o f all, you need to find a diary or scheduling tool, e.g,. Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook Calendar, etc. and list out the activities you need to accomplish, e.g. School time, revision, assignment projects, time to meet friends, family time, leisure time , etc.
Then, you can put down your school time and assign the time for your home/revision, etc. Then, you can then identify some time for your leisure, family gathering and meeting with friend, etc.
You need to update the schedule regularly and keep it up to date. The most important is you have to follow your schedule.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Gonzalo’s Answer

Hi Nusrat - Here is an excellent blog entry with 8 steps you can take to start developing a stronger work ethic:
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Andrew’s Answer

Hi Nusrat,

What I found helpful is to keep a calendar / journal of tasks and to-dos. If you have a smart phone, you can add those tasks with reminders. Ensure your reminders give you enough lead time to complete a task.

Hope this helps,

Andrew recommends the following next steps:

Setup a calendar with due dates for deliverables
Track completion of your tasks
Celebrate completing major milestones (and the small ones too!)