We all know the feeling. The big project is due in a week, and we think that’s plenty of time. We relax. We binge watch TV shows. Obsessively check our social media. Catch up on that much-needed sleep. And then after a week’s worth of cat memes, season finales, and Harry Potter movie marathons, we realize that our twenty page essay on the influence of James Madison in the development of America is due tomorrow.
So what’s the best way to avoid that? How can you get your work done in a productive way, and still have free time? It’s easier than you think.
There are many ways to manage your time effectively. Some work better than others, but the best method depends on the person. So here is a list of five things that you can do to balance fun with work.
1) Understand your time frame
The first step to time management is understanding that being organized doesn’t add extra hours to the day. It simply helps you use the time that you have in a wiser way. Most people have some sort of extra-curricular activity that they need to work around. If you do, make sure that you know when you’ll be busy and when you won't. This way, you don’t end up double-booked.
2) Set yourself goals
Goal setting is something that in the long term can greatly help you, and also doesn’t take too much effort and dedication. To start, make three core goals for yourself. These should be the main things that you want to accomplish, like making the honor roll or scoring more in a sport. As you get new assignments, decide which category it falls in. For example, finishing an essay on time helps you make honor roll, and setting aside time to practice your free throws helps you score more. This method helps you see the big picture, and what your work is contributing to it.
The best way to prioritize is to split your work into four simple categories: Urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and, last but not least, not important and not urgent. It may sound confusing, but it’s really not. Urgent and important work comes first. When you’ve finished all of your tasks in that category, move on to urgent but not important. Next up, important but not urgent, and finally not urgent and not important. This way, you don’t get caught up finishing small projects while your big assignment is left waiting.
4) Create a “Done List”
To-do lists are a great way to manage all of the things that you need to get done. But the problem with a to-do list is that it just keeps on growing! It can be hard to appreciate all of the hard work that you have already put in. And believe it or not, seeing everything that you have successfully gotten done is a great motivator to add more to that list! It’s simple. As you complete tasks, write it down. This way, even when your list of things to do keeps growing, your list of tasks that you’ve finished will too! It’s a great way to keep you going and help you feel like you’re working diligently.
5) Don’t sweat the small stuff
The higher your standard, the longer that everything is going to take. Have you ever done anything that you think is absolutely perfect? Probably not. Many people see that their work isn’t perfect, and will keep going and going and going, adding tiny details, until the project’s due and they can’t add any more. This wastes time. Meet the requirements, maybe set your own requirements, but don’t expect perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect. You’ll always find something that needs to be tweaked or improved.
Now you know five simple tricks to time management. Try them out in your daily life and see which one works best for you. You just might be able to reach your goals!