10 Ways to Better Manage Your Time
Posted Monday, Sep 19, 2011 by
Online schools are great for people who can’t take two to four years out of their lives to earn a college degree. Online colleges and universities let you take courses at your own pace and on your own schedule, a great benefit if you have a full-time job or a family that demands much of your attention.
But while convenient, online education also places a lot of responsibility on the student. Trying to hold down a job, run a home and go to school can itself require an advanced “degree” in time management.
If you’re going for your degree online — or are just thinking about attending an online college or university — here are 10 ways you can get the most from your waking hours:
1) Don’t Panic. Fear can be paralyzing, and just thinking you could be overwhelmed can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, understand you are in control, you can handle multiple responsibilities, and thousands of people who’ve tried this before have succeeded, just like you will. Start with a positive mind-set and you’re already half-way to the finish line.
2) Take Care of Yourself. Successful time management requires you to be at the top of your game both physically and mentally. That means getting plenty of sleep (6 to 8 hours per night), eating nutritious meals at set times and getting at least a half-hour of exercise every day. (Just 30 minutes of steady walking counts.) Doing all these things may take time out of your day, but they will also make the time remaining more productive.
3) Plan Each Day. Get a calendar or daily planner and actually plan out every day of the week. Set aside the time you need to accomplish each day’s goals while still leaving “free time” for yourself.
4) Discover Your Own Rhythms. Are you a “morning person” or a “night owl”? Do you find you’re most creative during certain hours? Learn your own personal rhythms and schedule your activities accordingly.
5) Delegate. If there are small jobs you can hand off to other family members, do it. Make your success a group project.
6) Fill in the Blanks. You will occasionally find yourself “killing time” between major activities, be it riding on a bus, sitting in a doctor’s office or waiting “on hold” on the phone. Be prepared to fill in these “blanks” with small tasks such as reading school assignments.
7) Learn to Say No. It’s often hard to say “no,” but sometimes it’s the only way to get anything done — and maintain your sanity.
8) Communicate. Let family members and co-workers what you’re trying to accomplish, what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. Keep them updated on your status, especially when you’re under unusual pressure and need their understanding and support.
9) Don’t Be a Perfectionist. Accept when something is good enough so you can drop it and move forward. If you try to do everything perfectly, chances are nothing will be done at all.
10) Celebrate Your Successes. When you complete a difficult job or earn a good grade, take time to acknowledge the success, share it with others, and reward yourself with a small treat. Positive reinforcement, even to yourself, will create a positive feedback system that makes each job easier than the one before.
Effective time management is both an art and a science. The specifics depend on your own needs as well as your individual abilities and temperament. But regardless of your situation, these 10 tactics can help you achieve your long-term goals and eventually reap the rewards that lie at the end of your journey.