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Time Management Q&A

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How to best manage your time for classNot sure where to start budgeting your time? In the latest installment of “Ask an Advisor“, you’ll find helpful tips on how to strike a balance between your school work and your daily life commitments.

Q:

What tips do you have for time management?

A:

Life would be so much easier if we could wave a magic wand and the project or paper we’ve been meaning to work on was flawlessly complete, our bills were written and in the mail, the dog was walked, the car fixed, and the house cleaned. Unfortunately, life, as we all know, is not that easy. And even though relying on a magic wand to get our work done isn’t an option, there are many are small things we can do to help us manage our time more effectively:

  • Set SMART goals
    Setting goals is an important part of time management. The easiest way to ensure you will meet your goals is to keep your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, or, SMART! Instead of setting general goals try to set specific goals; for example, “I will go to the gym three days a week,” is much more specific and more likely to get accomplished than the general goal, “I will get in shape.” It is also wise to set goals that are measurable; using the previous example, is it easier to measure how in shape you are or if you made it to the gym three days a week? Attainable and realistic goals are goals that are important to you and that you believe you can achieve; the trick to setting attainable and realistic goals is asking yourself if you are willing and able to work towards the goal in order to achieve it. The most important part of goal-setting is goal accomplishment. One of the best ways to ensure goal accomplishment is to set your goals to timely deadlines and check in points in order to assess and reassess your progress and the relevance of the goal itself.
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  • Remain flexible
    Have you ever heard the old adage, “the only constant in life is change”? Well, it is true. In order to keep up with life’s changes try to stay as flexible as possible. A great tip for maintaining flexibility is to only actively plan 50-75% of your time; this leaves the remaining hours in your day to account for unplanned activities, interruptions, last minute projects, rescheduled meetings, and all of the other changes life throws at you.
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  • Make time for things you enjoy
    Remember to take time for yourself. Stress levels, sleep, and overall health have a huge impact on productivity and time management.
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  • Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks
    Standing face to face with a huge project in front of you can be very intimidating. Try breaking larger, more time consuming tasks in to smaller tasks that can be completed at different times. For example, if your goal is to plan a May trip to New York City, smaller tasks could include: booking your flight and hotel room, researching .
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  • Prioritize
    Determine which projects and/or events are the most important and have the shortest deadline and work on them first. Remember that ‘urgent’ and ‘priority’ do not mean the same thing. If something is deemed urgent it must be addressed immediately; priorities are tasks that, while often critical, do not necessarily require immediate attention.
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  • Plan around your best you
    Are you more energized in the morning, or at night? Do you feel the need for an afternoon nap or are you most productive after 2:00 PM? Most people know how their body and mind feel at various points of the day. Try to plan your day around the way you body and mind function. If you are an early bird, work on your most challenging projects in the morning; if you are a night owl, save your important work for late night; if you traditionally start to feel sluggish around 3 PM then save your less intense work for later in the afternoon.

– Contribution by the Student Advising Staff at American Public University

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