Is there anything more stressful than feeling like you just don’t have enough time to get anything done? The overwhelming anxiety some of us experience when we realize there just aren’t enough hours in the day can be… well… overwhelming. Here are some useful tips to help ensure you maximize your time and de-stress your life:
- Make a To-Do List:
A to-do list is one of the best ways to keep up with everything you need to accomplish. Not only do you need to utilize it, but you must also use it correctly. Prioritize your list using the A-F method, which means ‘A’ items are highest
priority while ‘F’ are the lowest. Also, for big projects be specific. When you say “start research project” what does this mean? What does it entail? Failure to be specific can cause you to miss important steps or to procrastinate altogether.
- Set Personal Goals:
Where would you like to be in six months? Or a year? Or ten years? If you answered “I don’t know” to any of these questions then you need to set some personal goals. Personal goals are great because they give you a destination to work towards. They also save you from unnecessary distractions because when you know where you want to be, you tend to make better decisions when deciding what to spend your time on.
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between important matters and urgent matters. Important matters lead to the achievement of your goals. Urgent matters require immediate attention and often lead to the accomplishment of someone else’s goals. You must deal with urgent matters because the consequences of not doing so are immediate as well. Learning how to take a step back and value your important matters as well as others’ urgent matters can go a long way in learning to prioritize tasks. Remember, what is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important (Dwight Eisenhower).
- Manage Your Distractions:
People typically lose up to two hours a day in distractions. Think of how much could have been accomplished if those distractions had been managed! Kids, phone calls, housework… it’s a wonder anything gets done right? First, set some boundaries. If you have homework or a research paper that you need to work on then set specific “Do Not Disturb” times. This may require some creativity on your part when it comes to kids, but it can be done. Minimize other distractions while working by turning off the phone and T.V. and putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your front door.
- Don’t Procrastinate:
Procrastination is something we are all guilty of, especially when we are facing a big project and are feeling overwhelmed. A good method to avoid procrastination is to develop an Action Plan. Break large projects down into manageable steps so that you can see what needs to be done and what has been completed. This way you can complete smaller chunks at a time and feel less overwhelmed.
- Don’t Take on Too Much:
Are you in every club they offer at school? Do you always pick up the extra shifts at work? Can’t say no to a volunteer opportunity? You may have too much on your plate. Taking on too many tasks at once is poor time management and can lead to stress, bad performance, and low morale. Learn to say no when asked to take on more than you can handle in a tactful way, or trim down some of the commitments you have already. This way you will have time to focus on the meaningful projects you do keep.
When you recognize and rectify your time management mistakes, you immediately improve your productivity. Overall, learning to manage your time wisely leads to more happiness and less stress in all areas of your life.
If you have other time management suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.
Amy Hinkle, Externship Advisor, Student Success Department, CollegeAmerica-Denver. Amy began her career at CollegeAmerica as a student in the Medical Specialties program. While attending classes she was an Administrative Assistant in the Deans’ Department until she graduated in 2010. After graduating with an Associate of Occupational Studies in Medical Specialties she returned to CollegeAmerica as a Teacher’s Assistant to the Medical Specialties Dean and the Radiology Department. Soon thereafter she was promoted to the position she currently holds. She plans to return to CollegeAmerica as a student to complete her Bachelor of Healthcare Administration in November 2011.