Optimize Your Time

Tired of spinning your wheels but getting very little done?  Sooner or later, we all face these lulls.  But with time management skills, we can optimize our time and spend it on high-value activities.  That means, we get more done with more bang in less time.

Here is an introduction to time management.  Some of these skills I found from a site called mindtools.com, which invites the viewer to sign up for $1 for the first month—which I did.  And I didn’t regret it.

Time and record all your tasks.  This way, you’ll be able to assess how much time tasks will take.  Once you know how long a task takes, you can more accurately schedule your day.

Schedule.  Mark on a calendar all your assignment and exam due dates.  Then break the most pressing tasks down into the first actions needed to get them in motion.  Perform those first actions as soon as possible.  Then, break down the task into many mini-tasks and create your own deadlines for each step.  Lastly, aim to finish your assignments at least a week in advance of the due date, if possible.

But eliminate time-wasters.  My employer said to me, “Don’t work so hard.  Expect that some tasks may never get done.”  One system I found says to prioritize tasks from A to F, with A being the most high priority.  The F ones, possibly the “time-waster,” are completed only after the A to E tasks are finalized.

Start on high-priority tasks as soon as they get assigned.  But to do this, first rank your tasks priority levels according to the A to F system.  Be sure to also have your professor or employer let you know what your top priorities are.

But consider the time a task will take in relation to how much benefit it will provide.  Some tasks take a long time to complete but don’t give much benefit.  I’m wanting to create YouTube videos using a screen recorder tool.  But the YouTube topic I chose will take a lot of work with little gain.  Instead of drudging through the task, I decided to change the topic to something more relevant to my work.

Make your environment highly organized.  Keep your implements close at hand.  When studying at my work desk, I would have a cup filled with plenty of sharpened pencils, several pens, an eraser, whiteout, and a ruler.  I’d always have a good cheap, easy-to-use calculator.  I had plenty of paper, too, and a backup ink cartridge for my printer.  The rule is, whenever you take time away from studies to “find” something, aim to have backups of that something always within arms reach.  Doing so will save you time.

Let your goals drive what tasks you focus on.  But don’t just pick any goal.  Choose ones that excite you and that serve your highest priorities in life.  Exciting and relevant goals will motivate you to achieve success.  Then present a case for that goal to your significant other.  This will help you determine whether your motivations for the goal are sound.  Once the goal seems golden, make a step-by-step action plan to tackle it.  An exciting goal is motivating.

I found a system on mindtools.com that is a to-do list on steroids.  I aim to try it out.  Perhaps the biggest time saving rule I’ve learned at the university is “when there’s an opportunity to try a new study-related system, adopt it.”  Such systems may improve our performance most every time.

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