I used to laugh at the notion of time management. For years, I was the person who would still have no free time if the day were somehow extended to include 30 hours of daylight. It all started when I was in high school. My senior year I worked two jobs, went to UW-Madison part time, and volunteered three days a week at the local elementary school helping teach kindergarteners.
When I started college, I opted for a full load each semester while holding officer positions in various organizations. I also lead the stereotypical Greek college student lifestyle of parties and social events every night. Halfway through my junior year, it all caught up to me.
Years of four-hour nights, an overloaded social and academic life, and perhaps a bit too much socializing put me in the hospital with anxiety attacks. I spent a month bedridden, too weak to walk to class and too tired to stay awake. My condition forced me to withdraw from almost all my courses and quit an amazing job.
I used to laugh at the notion of time management because I felt it was impossible to manage time when you had none. I was wrong. No matter how productive and efficient a person may be, we cannot forget that our greatest asset is our health and must make time for self-care.
Here are some simple steps to creating a time management plan:
- Recognize that you need to create and follow a schedule. Many people struggle to accept the idea that taking the time to create a schedule will help, or create one and never follow it.
- Use a pen to schedule non-negotiable events, such as personal time, work or going to the gym. It can be hard to step away from a big project for half an hour to recoup, so make that time a meeting with yourself and don’t cancel!
- Use a pencil to write in negotiable events.
- Do a time study to find out how much time it really takes you to do various tasks, you might find you feel behind because you give yourself ten minutes to do something that takes twenty.
- Place your schedule in a location where you will see it frequently. If you get off track, the visual reminder will help you see what you should be doing.
- Review your schedule regularly, even hourly. If you have not been allotting yourself enough time, revise it. Your schedule should grow with you, not constrain you.