With the school year approaching and summer winding down to a tragic close, it’s almost time for incessant homework assignments, college applications, long work hours, and more. Time management is generally very challenging to learn at first – especially for high school students – but as years have passed, I’ve noticed that it gets easier to balance school, work, social life, and personal life.
With such a hectic schedule as the one I have now, here are my favorite ways to manage my stress and improve my time management skills:
- Write everything down.
Whether I have a million assignments to do or I have a bunch of thoughts weighing down my mind, I like to use my planner or journal to write down all my tasks and feelings of the day. Whenever I write down my to-do’s, I typically use bullet points to simplify the list and write everything down in short, simple phrases so as to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
For example, rather than writing this:
Must read the first fifty pages of The Great Gatsby by Friday, September 30th
I would write this:
Read 50 pgs of Gatsby by Fri.
This helps me memorize all the tasks I have for the day, as opposed to having to recite long, dragged-out sentences in my head throughout the day. Short and sweet is always better!
- Figure out when you feel most productive.
You can’t force yourself to work at 7 a.m. when you feel more lively at 7 p.m., so determine whether you’re an early bird or a night owl and schedule your day around your preference. To find out whether you’re a night or a morning person, pick the busiest day of the week on which you can assess every other hour of the day on the Notes app on your phone. Start from the hour at which you wake up until the hour you fall asleep.
Your assessment should look something like this (may/may not be identical as mine):
6:30 a.m. – sluggish
8:30 a.m. – lethargic
10:30 a.m. – tired
12:30 p.m. – hungry
2:30 p.m. – much better than before
4:30 p.m. – happy
6:30 p.m. – energized
8:30 p.m. – motivated
10:30 p.m. – content
As you can tell, the assessment shows that I am a full-on night owl; therefore, I should schedule the bulk of my assignments toward the end of the day rather than the morning. This way, I am much more likely to accomplish all or most of the items on my to-do list instead of wasting time feeling drowsy.
- Do first what is due first.
In other words, prioritize your list of tasks by their deadline! For example, if you have a paper due in a week but a physics project that is due in three days, concentrate on finishing your project rather than spending hours on your essay.
If you do want to get a head start, however, I think it is always a great idea to do a little bit of everything each night. For instance, you can work on your physics project for two hours and write a paragraph of your paper within thirty minutes. It’s all about budgeting your time wisely!
- Always make time for self-care.
This tip is extremely important, yet it is one that many people ignore. Self-care is pretty self-explanatory – it’s the act of taking care of yourself to feel sane and happy every day. When scheduling my days, I always think of self-care as a priority, not a burden.
There are a million different ways of self-care that you can try out! See which of the following you prefer and find a way to incorporate it into your daily routine:
• Write in a journal.
• Go on a fifteen-minute run.
• Use a face mask, or make one at home!
• Sing and dance in your room for ten minutes.
• Take a warm bubble bath.
• Learn a new activity (i.e. sewing, baking, etc.).
• Paint your nails.
• Spend time with your pet.
• Walk around your neighborhood and soak up the sun.
• Clean your room (you’d be surprised at how amazing this one feels!).
• Read your favorite book.
• Look at yourself in the mirror and compliment yourself.
• Eat that last slice of chocolate cake you’ve been hiding from yourself.
• Meditate for ten minutes.
• Listen to your favorite songs.
• Drive around town for a few minutes with no destination in mind.
Of course, there are many other ways you can practice self-care, so don’t feel limited to the ones I listed above! Feel free to experiment and find other activities that make you feel happy.
- Ask for help.
One of my favorite ways to decrease my stress is to collaborate with others. Not only does this significantly lower the workload I place on myself, but this also does the same for my peers!
Let’s say you have a math assignment with 100 problems. With four other friends, you all can complete twenty problems each and work together to solve problems that you may not understand. As the old saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”
Another way to do this is to contact your teacher or professor if you ever have any questions. This way, your teacher/professor will know that you are actively engaged in your learning and want to know more about the curriculum. Plus, if your grade is on the brink of an A or a B, your teacher/professor may take into consideration the times that you asked for help, and bump up your grade!
- Eliminate all distractions.
Imagine how much more productive your life would be if you turned off the TV, put your cell phone away, and temporarily blocked all social media websites from your browser. Do you think your time management levels would improve drastically? Then go ahead and do it!
I know it can be challenging, especially if you’re used to scrolling down Twitter for four hours straight, but it is super effective if you want to get everything done. You don’t necessarily have to give everything up cold turkey – you can start out by limiting your cell phone use from thirty minutes to ten minutes. Start simple and work your way up when you feel more comfortable and disciplined.
Those are the ways I love to practice effective time management! If you have any more ideas or tips for me, please feel free to let me know!
As always, I will write again very soon ♡