Time management is not just a notebook where you jot down your routine tasks and mark out important visits and appointments. It’s rather a set of rules, habits, and skills that help you keep up with your work and effectively dedicate your time. In contrast to popular opinion, it has nothing to do with rushing, skipping rest, or ignoring a lush life around. Rather, it’s about investing the appropriate amount of time in the right activity.
However, if past experience is anything to go by, time management can be quite a challenge for college students. Overwhelmed by tons of assignments and responsibilities, they often try to fit the maximum job in the minimum of time – and burn out as fast.
But recognizing the hurdles is halfway to eliminating them. So here are 7 time management mistakes you’re likely doing as a student:
Too Many Responsibilities
The modern world translates the idea of super-productivity – that every minute of your life shouldn’t be wasted. For some, it may be a good stimulus to work at their full potential, but others can adopt very unhealthy habits. One of them is scheduling more tasks than you can actually handle.
While high ambitions and pushing your limits can be good things, regular overload leads to stress, procrastination, poor quality, and in the end takes more time than it might have if you’d cut yourself some slack.
Instead, try to plan your day like if you were a human and not a Superman. This means realizing, accepting, and considering the fact that some assignments may take longer than you expect and allowing yourself some time to unwind. It’s better to schedule less and do more, than schedule a lot and lose it.
They are the plague of productivity. Every time you distract to read a message, talk to a friend, or google the song playing over and over in your head, you risk wasting another 10-15 minutes just to return to focused state and get back to work. And it may continue to infinity.
To effectively manage your time, remove random distractions. Switch off your phone, leave it outside your room, or turn off notifications and ask your friends and family not to call you until you finish studying. Take food and drinks beforehand. Think of anything that bothers you and deal with it before you dig into reading. Finally, make your distraction time scheduled to have a break and recharge.
Lack of priority
Learning to prioritize tasks is crucial. It gets you to see which tasks are urgent and which are important but can be put off for later. Knowing this, you can schedule your day accordingly, where completing urgent assignments will be your top priority. Then, you can move on to important but not so pressing issues.
Students love putting things off for later. If you haven’t pulled all-nighters, then you’ve never gone to college. Truly, procrastination can be as good as eating a whole cake – sweet in the beginning, and overwhelming in the end.
The same happens when you postpone tasks for tomorrow – as to find time to finish them, you have to decide what other tasks you want to sacrifice or leave for the next day. And this vicious cycle may go on and on.
Rather than procrastinating, try to use the five-minute rule when you have to work just for five minutes to get in the zone. Or break a large task into smaller bits to make it seem less distressing. Last of all, you may decide that you don’t want to do this at all; then, let it go with peace of mind and get down to another task.
Fear of Failure
A brother of procrastination, fear of failure makes us stall and waste an enormous amount of time and energy for second thoughts and self-reprimand. In fact, even more than if we simply did the job.
Instead, try to stop making assumptions about the future outcomes and simply finish the task. In the process, you may even realize that you like it, or more – that the work is going quite fine.
Lack of Strategic Thinking
When you have a truckload of tasks to tackle, your success depends largely on the strategy you pick. You may find it tempting to spend a few sleepless nights to complete your assignments – simply because you love pigging out cookies after 6 p.m.
But if this is not the case, a working strategy is a must. This includes figuring out when the peak of your productivity is, matching the right tasks with the right day periods, as well as deciding to delegate a portion of your job to someone else.
“Making up my mind to hire someone to write a paper for me in HR was the hardest. I felt guilty somehow. I knew it was the right thing to do as I had a job and was preparing for the football season…But as much as a good strategy can turn the outcome of the game, it can also help your academic progress,” confessed a student from Perdue.
Perhaps, students ignore strategic planning because it requires a good deal of mental energy. But should you overcome this barrier, you’ll be surprised how productive you become.
Fear to say “No”
Lack of courage to say “No” to requests, additional tasks, or even entertainment and excessive pleasures is often the main hindrance holding you back and bringing all your time management efforts to naught. Sometimes, you just need to realize that you’re not almighty and time has a tendency to end. Schedule your tasks wisely, prioritizing what’s urgent and important for you and your progress – and dump the rest.
We aren’t born with time management skills. Furthermore, quite often we throw sand in our own wheels. But once you realize what holds you back from being productive, fixing it is just a matter of a few simple actions.
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