Efficient time management is key when it comes to developing an exceptional personal brand. I conduct time management workshops for incoming students and below, I will provide you with tips for time management based on personal strategies as well as sound research on time management interventions.
Assess Your Time Management
Take the following quiz written for USA Weekend by Hyrum Smith of the Franklin Covey Company:
- How often do you plan in an effort to keep life from running out of control?
- Do you put daily plans on paper?
- Do you allow flexibility in your plans?
- How often do you accomplish all you plan for a given day?
- How often do you plan time for what matters most to you?
- How often is your daily plan destroyed by urgent interruptions?
Scores and interpretation:
6-10: Terrible Planner: You should consider new tools and processes to help you plan effectively. A great first step would be to meet with a time management consultant.
11-15: Below Average Planner: You may already have a planning system, but using it more effectively will help to reduce the stress and lack of control you feel in your life.
16-20: Average Planner: Your planning system is working, but you can do better. You may need help focusing on priorities, dealing with urgent interruptions or writing your daily plan.
21-25: Above Average Planner: Your planning system is working well. Keep up the good work, with periodic reviews to be sure you’re planning around what matters most in your life.
26-30: Excellent Planner – or candidate for burnout? You have mastered planning and should experience the serenity that comes from taking charge of your life. But make sure you’re in control of your planning rather than letting it control you.
So, you’re either an excellent planner or you could use some tips for managing your time better.
Tips for Time Management
Tip #1: Know yourself:
- How do you like to organize your outer world?
- Do you like to procrastinate?
- Do you value time?
- Do you respect others’ time?
- Do you do your best work at the last minute?
- Do you pull “all nighters”?
- In high school, did you do your homework in homeroom?
- Do you get upset if others’ are late?
- Can you juggle multiple projects?
- Do you like to work in teams?
- Would you be upset if a professor called on you and you were not prepared?
Tip #2: Look for ways to free up your time. Your time is valuable and shouldn’t be wasted because you didn’t plan well. It’s OK to have fun, especially “unplanned” fun, but as a student, you also have to meet priorities and deadlines.
Tip#3: This one’s easy: SLEEP. Your body and your brain need it. Rest and relaxation will improve your concentration and focus.
Tip#4: Know your tools and resources. Use your phone, computer, calendar, daily planner/organizer, and alarm clock to create reminders and lists. Turn off your phone in order to get uninterrupted study time.
Tip #5: Make a list of specific things to be done each day, week and month. Prioritize the items on the list. Anticipate unexpected challenges and plan ahead. Set firm, yet realistic deadlines. Assess your progress and identify what you did well and what you could do better.
Tip #6: Identify your weaknesses and how they effect your goals. Reflect on why and how these lead to time management challenges. Come up with a strategy for each individual weakness. Use the S.M.A.R.T. goals system: specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time bound. For example, if you procrastinate when you have a paper due, make it easier by creating a system of small goals. Reframe the situation: instead of 30 pages due in a month, try eight pages due (to yourself) every week leading up to the deadline.
Tip #7: Ask for help from an academic advisor, professor, tutor, academic dean, counselor in counseling services, culture center director, or grad student. A fantastic and often underutilized tool is a time management consultant- you may be able to find one through your school’s academic resource center.
Tip #8: (my favorite) Time management is not only about being on time. It’s about short-term and long-term goals that you set for yourself. It’s about accomplishments, achievements and outcomes. An important long term goal for a first year student is choosing and declaring a major. Sophomores are finding internships and deciding if they will study abroad. Juniors and seniors are thinking about jobs, graduate school, and fellowships for after graduation.
Tip #9: Look at how your peers do it. If it seems like a breeze for someone, ask him or her how to manage time well. Rely on your peers. If you’re a leader in a student group, delegate responsibilities to others and empower them and you in the process.
Tip #10: Forgive yourself when you fail and congratulate yourself when you succeed!
Nicole Anderson is an Assistant Director/Career Counselor for Tufts University Career Services. With fourteen years of experience in college career services, Nicole’s expertise includes career counseling undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni from liberal arts, science, engineering, business, and education.