How to Manage Self-Management

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

University life requires that a student must accept the importance of effective use of time. How students choose to spend their time can make the difference between success and failure in their academic career. It is especially important to self-manage your time, even if you don’t feel like it, which, let’s face it, there are many times that we do not feel like doing the things we know we should.

There are various management methods that can be employed to make the best use of your time; each has its own unique benefits and purposes. The following are some ideas of time management tools that can be used on a daily basis to improve productivity and help you manage your limited time. Some students resist using a written self-management system and believe that they can store it all in their heads. If that is the case than they are probably not doing very much! Experiment with a few ideas from below and see what works for you. You might be surprised by how easy it is to design a useful self-management tool that works for you.

Make a To-Do List:

  • A to-do list will ensure that everything gets done, including things that might otherwise be forgotten.
  • Organize the to-do list in order of priority! This is key, understand the things in your life that are urgent such as studying for an exam the next day, or not urgent such as watching Netflix till 4:00 A.M.
  • If a task cannot be completed in one day, it can be put on the next day’s list. It’s important, however, to complete as many tasks as possible.
  • Studies show that creating a to-do list can significantly increase productivity.

Priorities and Deadlines:

  • Setting deadlines can help accomplish tasks that would otherwise be set aside or forgotten.
  • Make sure that you keep deadlines practical and accomplishable.
  • Organize priorities so that the tasks that must be delivered soonest are first on the list (again understand what is urgent and what is not).
  • Set deadlines so that you stay on track.
  • Set deadline appointments on your cellphone or laptop to remind you a day in advance of an upcoming due date.
  • Google Calendar is an excellent place to set deadlines, as every UMaine student is given a Google account.

Meeting those Deadlines:

  • In college, as well as in all of life, tasks usually need to be completed within a set time period, which makes meeting deadlines very important.
  • One way to help meet a deadline is to break a project down into pieces, which makes an larger task easier to accomplish. One great example of this comes from Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life where she writes:

”Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Although it is not recommended that you try to get a report that you have been given three months to finish done overnight, the key concept is not to let a large project immobilize you.

  • Another way to meet deadlines is to schedule things so that extra time can be taken if necessary.

Set Goals:

  • Similar to creating a to-do list, goal-setting is another important part of time management, because doing so not only organize one’s day and helps accomplish tasks, but also provides a sense of accomplishment.
  • Ensure a goal isn’t too large or unreasonable by dividing complicated task into multiple, smaller goals.
  • Use a sheet of paper, or a computer program to track your progress.
  • Goals should be based on performance, not output.

Put Time and Effort into Achieving Those Goals:

  • Be practical and realistic with goals by giving a reasonable amount of time to complete them. You cannot do everything at once!
  • Set goals in accordance with priority, and tackle them one at a time. Each goal should be handled separately.
  • Giving undivided attention and time to complete each goal not only results in a faster completion time, but also a higher-quality product.
  • Putting time and effort into goals is an important part of time management, as it allows for both quality and efficiency.

Begin A Daily Routine:

  • Getting a daily routine down will go a long ways towards keeping you organized and on task.
  • Adding time to relax is also important. This not only provides something to look forward to, but may also satisfy things that would otherwise be distracting.
  • Eliminate or economize anything that may not need too much time to complete. (Procrastination comes in all shapes in sizes- thinking about doing a project can sometimes take longer than the project itself)
  • Organizing a daily routine is important because it not only helps to organize the entire day, but also allows time to satisfy distractions (schedule in a little time for Facebook or your favorite blog?) and recuperate!

Avoid Procrastination:

  • Always decide in favor of the things that are most important. Some things may need to be put off until later to accomplish the most important tasks.
  • Decide on what needs to be done first, and accomplish that task. Don’t give time to anything else. This will make you feel empowered to complete more tasks
  • Making right decisions is an important part of time management as it prevents procrastinating and helps to prioritize and give a sense of accomplishment when you are finished.