How to Better Manage Your Time in 2016

By on January 18th, 2016


2016 is here, and so is your second semester. By now you’ll probably be thinking about those end-of-year deadlines and how they suddenly seem so close…!

If you’re not doing so already, now is the perfect time to review your time management skills and ensure you’re on track to achieve those desired results. Here are our prime tips to help you do just that.

1. Make a priority list.
It may sound obvious, but a good start is to write down all of the things you absolutely have to do this term. Many students overlook just how much they have on their plate and end up leaving important things till the last minute.

Include as much as you can think of in your list, such as classes, deadlines, work shifts, extra-curricular commitments and family/social events. Be sure to leave some time for yourself too so you’re not overwhelmed. Once you have your list, order them in terms of priority so you know what to pay most attention to and what to not worry as much about. It also helps to estimate just how much time each one will require in your schedule, so you can plan accordingly.

2. Plan time for sleep.
Planning time for sleep will ensure you don’t burn yourself out, or worry about not getting enough. Although everyone is different, you should aim to get around 7-8 hours of sleep a night as this tends to be the norm for most.

Sleep is vital for boosting your mental performance; when you’re well-rested, even the most challenging tasks will seem easier. Leaving an appropriate ‘sleep window’ will ensure you keep stress to a minimum and achieve your daily goals.

3. Work around start dates, not just deadlines.
Rather than simply noting when an assignment is due, set yourself a date of when you will start it instead. That way, you’ll be much less likely to be caught out by last-minute deadlines and can start your assignment in plenty of time, minimising stress levels.

4. Study when you are most alert.
Identify the time(s) of day when you are most alert and aim to plan your study sessions around then. For some it could be first thing in the morning before their fellow students have even awoke, or it could be after dark when others are sleeping.

Whenever it is that you feel well rested, seize these moments to really get a steer on your studies. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

5. Find an organisation tool that works for you.
For some it’s their phone; for others it can be their Google calendar, a diary, a wall planner or a third party study app. Whatever way works for you, it’s good to have some form of organisation tool so you can comfortably see what’s ahead.

Make your planner easily visible to you every day, making use of alerts and reminders if your planner is digital. The use of colour coding will also help you to see what’s what at a glance as well as aid your memory.

6. Know what distracts you.
Be aware of your weaknesses – the things that distract you; tempt you away from your work and cause you to procrastinate. They could include the location in which you study; the time of day you study; the people you study with or devices and objects in the same room.

Try and limit your exposure to these distracters and make it as difficult as possible to be tempted. One way to stay strong is by rewarding yourself after a study session or during a break with one of your distracters. It might be spending 15 minutes on Facebook or watching an episode of your favourite show. Remember though to engage in these activities away from your study area – this should be reserved for studying only.

7. Make use of extra ‘time windows’.
When you look at your daily routine, you may find you have windows of time to spare, such as when walking, riding, traveling by bus or waiting for class to start. Use these moments to read over your notes or prepare for your next seminar.

You might also try listening to podcasts or turning your notes in audio files so you can listen back later.

8. Review & Assess
Remember to review and assess your schedule on a weekly basis to ensure you’re using your time as best you can. If one thing isn’t working, try and work out why and change it to something that does.

Remember, there will always be more to do than you realistically have time for. It’s okay to say “no” if something is too much or doesn’t align with your own personal goals.

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