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How do I manage time effectively?

I am a junior in high school and one skill that i need to grasp is time management. I am a person who is always hyperactive but I also get distracted a lot and I want to know what it takes to manage my time more effectively. I ask this because I still need to learn how to finish my schoolwork on time but also still want to participate in many activities. I want to learn time management skills so that I can take more time out of my day to do other activities. I believe that time management skills will also help me in the long run so I believe that making a habit of these skills will be better if I start early! #management #higher-education #students #time-management #extracurriculars #personal-development

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Jared’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

To become a time management super hero, you will need a calendar, a to do list, and a process you follow every day.


That fact that you are asking this question is extremely good (and for everyone else reading this question, you're on the right track too!). Time management is arguably the most under-appreciated real-life superpower -- I often notice that my most successful friends and colleagues are also the best at managing their time. I believe strongly that it is not coincidental!


Use a calendar to plan and track your time



  • Find a calendar app you like and use it to block out time in advance. For example, at the start of a college semester, get the syllabus for each of your classes and enter in all of the assignment due dates into your calendar. If you know that an assignment will take you at least 10 hours to complete, pre-schedule the 10 hours in the weeks before the assignment is due. If should take you about 3 hours at the start of a semester to plan out the whole semester.

  • Some calendar apps like Google Calendar will allow you to set up recurring calendar events that will save you time. If you know that you have to reserve time for lunch every day (who doesn't?) then you just make a recurring entry for lunch and boom it's all there for the rest of time. In Google Calendar you can move around any lunch event without affecting the others.

  • Special note: If you'd like to learn more about some really advanced calendaring techniques, you could also watch the video of a speech I gave in Boston a few years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmTfO3gpseI (Time management protip: watch it at 2x speed to save time!)


Keep a to do list



  • First, use a digital (NOT WRITTEN) to do list.

  • If you don't have one, I recommend either Wunderlist or Todoist. I've heard good things about Tick Tick.

  • Put all of your to dos into it. If you need to do something, put it into your to do list.

  • I strongly recommend making sure your to dos are about what you will get DONE not what you will be DOING. For example "Create a draft of the second chapter of my book" is something you will get DONE. "Work on the second chapter of my book" is something you're DOING. You want to be able to "check off" the things at the end of the day, so make sure they're things that are worth checking off. Otherwise you'll fill your time with doing stuff and not with getting stuff done. (This might be a topic for a different discussion)


Your daily process



  • On Sunday night, update your calendar and to do list for the coming week, or beyond (as needed). It should take you 30 minutes. Ideally something that needs to get done is in BOTH your calendar and on your to do list. If it's only in one, it's going to feel a little awkward, but you can fix that easily. Make sure you ask yourself the question "Am I spending my time the right way and doing the right things this week?"

  • At the start of each day, look at your to do list and calendar for the day and remind yourself what you should be doing. This should take you less than 10 minutes unless you read it and realize something is wrong and you need to fix it.

  • Open your calendar mid-day to remind yourself of what to do for the afternoon. This should take you 5 mintues.

  • At the end of each day, take a look at your calendar and update it to reflect how you REALLY spent your time. If you slept, put that in. If you went to the gym, make sure it's there. If you worked on your math homework, it should be marked. If you did NOT do something that you originally wanted to, ask yourself if you still need to do it, and if so, move that calendar entry to the future when you plan to do it. If you do this well, you'll end up with a really great resource: you'll end up with a great way to look back and understand whether you're doing a good job of managing your time well or not. This should take you about 10 minutes.

  • Make this a habit! Try REALLY really really really hard not to miss a day. Just keep doing it one day at a time until it becomes a habit. (forming good habits is also a topic for another discussion)


Final thoughts


I've found that using these practices has really helped me to get much more done and be less stressed about what I am and am not getting done. I've had to change my process many times in my life: in freshman year of high school when I realized I was at risk of failing classes, in college when the workload got harder, and a few times after I started my career when I knew that I was getting stressed out by work.


I also want to mention that you can't improve your time management without spending a little time managing your time. This is ironic, right? But think of it as an investment: you're investing time in managing your time, and the result is that you'll get more out of your time.


Do this well and I predict you'll find your grades improve, your stress levels decrease, your confidence grow, and your professional life looking rosier.


Source: I've personally experienced three multi-month periods in my academic and professional career where I've had to dramatically revise how I manage my time.

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Troy’s Answer

Good morning Jamie,


So happy you are interested in becoming successful and going forth into utilizing your time in order to do so. There are many great strategies so finding the one that works for you is important, I'm certain you have many resources and people that will help mentor you with some strategies for you to try out.


I find goal setting and structure provide the foundation for successful time management. Having the goal of I will have this paper done, or I will be prepared for the next thing are a winner's mindset. Knowing you will do well because you are going to do everything you can will get you far. With that hunger will come an intense focus on your vision, and will open up any time you have to put your dreams into reality by putting them in the front.


You will be successful and you will accomplish many great things! Lastly, depending on what computer or mobile device you have, I recommend a Calendar app that syncs to one. Therefore you just put the event title, time, and reminder in and your device will automatically have it organized and send you reminders on your next important meeting/test/activity. By doing this you'll have created a successful structure and will always have it by your side. My best and I'm sure you are going to re program your style of activating your disciplined time management! :) Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!


-Troy

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M’s Answer

Hi Jamie! This is a great question! Junior year of high school is definitely extremely busy. I would really recommend writing everything down in a planner. From here on out every week plan out all your assignments and tasks for that week in advance. This will allow you to visualize everything you have going on that week. Good luck Jamie!
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Rachel’s Answer

<span style="background-color: transparent;">You have to set a routine for yourself and stick to it for the most part. Once you get into the groove of a routine it will be much easier for you to manage your time and have enough time for everything you need to do (including relaxing). Make yourself to-do lists on a weekly basis, use Google calendar or a planner to keep track of events, deadlines, and due dates. In addition to setting a routine and sticking to it, plan out relaxing activities into your day. Or set aside a time, after everything is done for the day, that you can have "me" time. I have also personally found it essential to not only find time for myself but also make use of that time in a way that is best for me and my holistic wellness. I have found the HeadSpace app to be an essential tool in helping me relax and generally feel more relaxed throughout the day, Guided meditation, even if you have a busy schedule, will make you feel more at ease and relaxed throughout the day as a whole (not just when you have the time to relax and focus on that "me" time).</span>

<span style="background-color: transparent;">Set a routine.Use Google Calendar.Set aside Me TimeWrite weekly to-do lists and use a planner.Find a peaceful and restful activity that will help you feel relaxed.</span>



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Nina’s Answer

I would say get a calendar and write down your schedule so you can view it each week. I think it helps because seeing makes it easier to see what you can fit during open times and helps so you aren't double booking yourself. Time management comes with practice you just have to stick to it.

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Simeon’s Answer

I'd recommend spending some time once a week or month and reflecting on how you spent your time. Write some goals for the coming week that are realistic and see if you achieved those goals by the next week. See if you are spending time on things that you don't value, need, or care about. If you can, do a more detailed and drawn out version of this process once a month.
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Simon’s Answer

I believe time management is the key to a successful career a low stress personal life. The key elements are: 1) make a list 2) prioritize the list and 3) complete the tasks on the list. Seems simple, but here are some tips to master the process.
Make the list items significant and the correct size. I.e. don't have an item that says graduate school, or on the other hand, don't create a list that has small, quickly accomplished tasks ( like have lunch!!!).
Two, make sure you prioritize the list and work on the most important, and/or the ones that have a deadline approaching. Also it's good to do some quick jobs between accomplishing the large multi day/week projects.
Finally complete the job. If you run into an issue, solve it and then get back on task. Sometimes you will need a break if you are creating (creative block). Use this break to do a quick item and then return to the main task. Don't abandon, or put the items on indefinite "hold". It will bite you. It's a great feeling of accomplishment when you cross off an item off the list. I had a work list separate from a home list...family member have their priorities. All my life people have commented on how well got things done. You will find that being organized gives you plenty of time to do many activities. Good luck.

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