I have always worked on trying to manage my time as efficiently as possible. While I was in college, I was a master at making the best use of my time during the day so when night time rolled around, I would be able to go out with my friends. I read and incorporated all of the time management advice I could find on the internet to make sure that I was optimizing my free time. This allowed me to get my work done earlier and in less time, so I could spend the bulk of my time doing the things I enjoyed.

One of the key strategies I used was outlining the goals/assignments I wanted to complete each week on a post-it note. Then, on a separate post-it note, I would outline the steps I needed to complete the night before I was going to do them. This allowed me to get my thoughts together and plan my work out ahead of time so I knew exactly what I needed to do each day. If I had a research paper do on Friday, I knew that on Monday and Tuesday I needed to spend time doing research, on Wednesday I needed to make a quick outline of the paper and start preliminary writing, and on Thursday, I needed to fill out the rest of the paper. By constantly cycling through short and medium term post-it notes, I was able to segment out both my personal and educational goals into manageable chunks.

The next element of my time management strategy was setting specific time limits on every task. Having an end time is extremely important because it keeps you from swaying off track. If you know that you are only going to spend an hour on a given task before moving on to something else, then it forces you to be as efficient as possible. It sounds self explanatory from a time management perspective, but time and time again in both the academic and working world, you attend meetings that seem like they have no end in sight. Without having a predetermined agenda and time span, you are wasting your time and the rest of the group’s time.

Finally, the third element of my strategy was to approach each task with complete focus. This means no distractions or multitasking! With the exception of light music, nothing else should distract you from finishing a task once you have started it. If you’re checking Facebook, watching TV, texting your friends, and trying to write a paper all at the same time, you’re never going to get anything done. Every time you switch between tasks, it takes time for your mind to switch gears and start thinking about what you are currently doing. If you focus on each task separately, you can reduce the amount of wasted time and increase your overall productivity.

Since I have graduated college, I have added a new element to my overall time management strategy. Once I started working, I quickly realized that my time was limited from when I got home to when I had to go to bed. There just wasn’t enough time for me to play sports with friends, read books, relax, write on my blog, etc. So I started thinking about even more ways to optimize my time. After analyzing my time, I realized that I spend about 2 hours a day in the car. Instead of listening to the same old songs on the radio  everyday, I started downloading audio books and podcasts. I’ve only been using this strategy for a short period of time, but during my “wasted time” in the car, I have already read Jeffrey Gittomer’s Little Red Book of Selling 3 times and listened to Alex Epstein’s The Triumph and Tragedy of the Oil Industry once. This week I am planning on downloading more audio books or just stopping by the library to check out their audio book collection.

No matter how old or how experienced you are, there is always room for improvement in time management. I have outlined the 4 most important elements of my time management strategy, but there are many more effective techniques that you can adopt. The most important part about self improvement is taking action. You can spend all day researching different time management techniques (But you wouldn’t because you have 100 percent focus and set deadlines now) to find the perfect strategy, or you can take action now and start managing your time efficiently.

 

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