Wouldn’t it be great if we had, say, 60 hours in a day? It definitely would simplify our lives, but the sad truth is, we all are forced to live in a cruel world where 24 hours are all we have. The problem of time management becomes more and more noticeable for each new generation.
The modern world lives at high speeds. We get any information in just a few clicks, we switch between tasks, make calls, check emails, and so on. If you work, you need to be hyper-productive. If you want to succeed, you need to work hard, and most people think of hard-working as of staying busy all the time. Is it true? It may be so to an extent, but the thing is to be productive, and being productive isn’t just doing anything to stay busy. Many of us don’t realize that they spend most of their time doing meaningless stuff. Such an approach is unlikely to lead you to success. The point is not to work harder, but to work smarter — that’s what it means to be productive.
If you need to complete many tasks within a limited time frame, you need to work smarter. This principle really helps, and I know what I’m talking about. Just like many others, I used to work like a robot, without planning my day properly. Eventually, I realized that my productivity didn’t increase as I tried to complete more tasks every day. Instead, I just felt squeezed and tired. My productivity suffered from such an approach, and I decided to completely change it.
The secret of success is managing your time. You need to work faster, you need to simplify your tasks, and to relieve stress. It turns out that everyone is able to clear away enough space in their life to work, meet with friends, and chill. You may think that 24 hours are not enough, but Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Jefferson had the same number of hours in a day. All you need to do to is rearrange your activities and plan your tasks properly.
Time Management Tips
To help you change your life for the better, I wrote this list of useful tips. Of course, it’s not a complete list of dos and don’ts, we all are different. However, I hope that these tips will push you in a right direction and give you some ideas about how to improve your own practices.
1. Sleep 7 to 8 hours
For most students, sacrificing their sleep is the first idea that looks like a solution. Indeed, why do we waste so much time just laying in bed with some stupid facial expression, doing completely nothing? The truth is, we need to sleep. If you’re one of the workaholics who sleep 4-5 hours a day, you know it better than anyone. When you don’t sleep enough, your body (and your brain as well) cannot work properly.
You just start thinking slowly, you don’t have enough energy, and your productivity hits the bottom. You certainly don’t want it, so make sure you sleep at least 7 hours a day. And, if you want more reasons to sleep well, I’ll tell you that British and Italian researchers recently analyzed more than 16 studies that covered 1.3 million people from different countries. It turned out that people who sleep six hours or less have 12% more chances to die young.
2. Start with the most important tasks
It’s hard to overestimate this rule of time management. When you wake up in the morning, determine a couple tasks that are crucial. Complete these tasks first, and you’ll be much closer to a success and motivated to achieve more things during the day. After this, you can move on to other things that are not so important and don’t get stressed out about not having enough time. When you’ve done all the essential tasks, there’s nothing wrong with leaving other things for tomorrow.
3. Start earlier
Let’s be honest, we all like to procrastinate. After all, you always manage to complete your tasks eventually, so what is wrong with procrastination?
Well, I’m really good at being lazy, believe me. That’s why I hate working in a rush, realizing that I could already finish my work a few hours ago. The earlier you start working, the easier you get your things done, and the less stressful your day is. The only thing you need is to make a decision and start working.
4. Sometimes you have to say no
There are thousands of things that you can do. Life is full of opportunities, but sometimes you need to choose things that are really important. Set your priorities and say no to everything that doesn’t fit them. Choose only activities that you have time for and that you actually care about.
Even if you don’t like working out, your body needs it. You don’t need to become a professional athlete (in this case, you won’t have time for your work). Just choose at least three days a week to exercise, and you’ll see how this habit changes your life. Your brain will concentrate better, you will feel more energy, and maybe, you’ll notice that your work faster.
Exercising is not really your thing? Check out our tips on how to become a person who works out.
6. Focus on your task
Turn off your phone, close all unnecessary windows in your browser and get rid of all other distractions. If you really want to be productive, you need to focus on a current task and forget about everything else. You may want to find a quiet place where nothing will distract you from work. However, some people like to listen to music when working. The thing is, you need to create comfortable conditions for yourself.
7. Turn your important tasks into habits
Studying is your main task. If your work involves a lot of writing, you need to make writing your daily habit. When writing is a part of your regular routine, you don’t think of how to manage your time to complete the necessary tasks, in fact, you don’t even notice how everything gets done. You just need to form a new habit, and this takes time. At first, you will need to stick to a strict schedule, writing a certain number of words every day.
8. Leave some free time
When you work non-stop, your productivity slightly falls. It’s hard to stay focused all the time, so you need to take a breath sometimes. After you complete a certain task, take a break and go for a walk. You may also try meditation or just switch to another kind of activity. Stretch your muscles, do your dishes, or do anything that will help your brain take a break from your main task.
9. Make use of your weekends
Perhaps, you’ve seen a meme where a man says “It’s Friday! F#ck this s%@t!” and throws his papers around. Then Monday comes, and he starts silently picking up his papers from the floor. Such a scenario is familiar to every one of us, however, it may be not the best way to manage your time. You can spend a couple hours working on weekends, and your Mondays won’t be so overwhelming. Moreover, you’ll still have enough time to chill and have fun.
10. Group similar tasks together
Try to sort your tasks to make the whole working process easier. Let’s say you need to write two essays, three reviews, and prepare a presentation. It will be easier for you to do similar tasks consecutively instead of approaching them in a random order. Different types of tasks require you to think differently, and it will be easier for your brain to continue to work in a certain way than to switch between completely different assignments. Don’t neglect the prompts and ready-made examples of your assignments from the network.
11. Jot down tasks you’re going to work on
Before you start working, take a blank sheet of paper and write down tasks that you’re going to complete today. For example, write “Literature assignment, questions 1 to 10,” and put this sheet in front of you. You’ll keep your eye on it and won’t forget what exactly you should do now. It’s easy to get distracted and forget about what your goals are. Such an approach will help you stay focused on things that really matter.
12. Decide when you’re going to work on each particular assignment
As you may have noticed, all my advice is about planning your activity. I think that everyone will be more productive and work more effectively if he or she eliminates the element of stress. Most often, I used to get stressed out when I couldn’t clearly understand what to do first, and how much time I have for each particular task.
My life became much simpler when I realized that I can spend a few minutes writing a list of tasks and deciding when exactly am I going to write some essay, research paper, or any other assignment. It’s much easier to just follow the list without worrying about time.
13. Work when you’re most productive
Most people are productive at morning and during a day. However, there are people who cannot work properly at morning, being most productive at night. No matter what schedule fits you best, I suggest sticking to it and working when your brain is most active. Make sure you work on the most important assignments during the most productive hours.
14. Be realistic about your abilities
Another important thing about planning is to be realistic. Don’t set goals that you cannot accomplish. The thing is, if you complete only three of seven tasks from your to-do list, you will only lose motivation. Keep in mind that some unforeseen distractions may steal some time from you, so don’t plan too many tasks for a day.
15. Review new information
If you want to be successful and productive, you need to have a good memory. There is a simple way to train your long-term memory. Once you’ve finished your work, spend some time reviewing new information that you learned during this day. Make your notes, if necessary.
16. Don’t let unimportant things to stop you
Sometimes we spend much more time than we need because we pay too much attention to unnecessary details. If you’re a perfectionist, it may seem familiar to you. However, if you really want to be effective, you need to think of how to do more instead of examining what has been already done. You can polish your work forever, and there will always be something to improve. Just complete all the tasks, and then move on to revising what you’ve done.
Finally, the last piece of advice is about enjoying your work. It’s good to care about getting things done, but this goal shouldn’t make you exhausted and stressed out. When you enjoy what you do, any task turns out to be not a big deal. Motivate yourself and think of what this work can actually give you. Do you want to get a good education? Do you want to get a nice job? Do you want your research to be published in a journal? If so, remind yourself these things. Remember your goals and don’t forget that every task is just another step towards them.