One skill that Athabasca University taught me well was time management. I learned to prioritize my schedule and learned to say “no” to requests for use of my time. It was a hard lesson for me at first, I always wanted to be available to help, to visit, to do whatever. But there came a time when I needed to start learning to say no. And, it has been kind of wonderful. I found that everyone understands, and there was no backlash as I feared, it made the time when I could go and do and help that much more enjoyable. The world didn’t end because I put work or school first sometimes.
Time management is more than learning to say no, though. It is about figuring out what work needs to be done and scheduling yourself accordingly. This can be hard when there are a few tasks that need to be done and one is much more enjoyable than the others. Maybe there is work that needs to be done for an internship and you’re currently facing writer’s block for your article. It can be easy to prioritize getting the internship work done first. But that leaves you scrambling at the end of a long weekend, thinking it is still Sunday when really the deadline is fast approaching.
Long weekends can be the most difficult to organize, it is tempting to throw caution to the wind and take it off but then that can leave the week a scramble. A while ago I wrote an article about starting a bullet journal. I wasn’t sure how long this would stick because previous attempts at organizing myself with a schedule faltered after a few months. It is, however, going strong. I can see the tasks I need to get done, I leave days that I can bump them too and I hardly ever forget about tasks.
The journal allows me to prioritize the list. An asterisk beside the task that is most important and I will limit my amount of time spent on other work. I may give myself the morning for bookkeeping and then free the afternoon for more creative work: listing article ideas, writing drafts, internship, etc. Even with this organization, I derail. Maybe I said “yes” to something when my time was demanded elsewhere and I should have said “no”. Or maybe I got caught up in some work and pushed the rest aside. It’s important to learn to roll with these times. Don’t beat yourself up for taking time for an adventure, for some summer fun. Instead, take a few minutes and schedule the following days, prioritize the work that needs to get done, those with deadlines, and then schedule in the rest that should have got done, self-imposed deadlines.
In these summer days, it is hard to keep on track. Long weekends add a bit more distraction, and it is often that things get a bit chaotic. But it is okay, beating yourself up only wastes valuable time you could be using to catch up. The only thing I caution, as I am guilty of doing it myself, is over booking days. I will feel I need to get caught up on missed work and so schedule an unrealistic amount of work during the next few days, but it doesn’t get done and only leaves me feeling further behind. So, be realistic about your time, schedule according to deadlines and give yourself a little grace to enjoy the weather while it lasts.
Deanna Roney is an AU graduate who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at https://deannaroney.wordpress.com/