You are likely wearing many hats: students, parent, spouse, pastor and many others. How can you make the most out of each hour of the day? Being able to effectively manage your time can allow you to do more with less effort and stress. What are the major stressors in your life? How well do you manage these? In this module, we will look at time and stress management skills, both can be barriers to success. Let’s explore how to manage these roadblocks.
Belinda Walley Shalders
At the completion of this module, students will be able to
- assess current time management issues in your own life;
- identify four strategies for effective time management;
- develop a Time Management Plan;
- identify current stressors in your life;
- identify five stress management techniques; and
- develop a Stress Management Plan.
This module will encourage you to examine your current practices, as well as explore different strategies. You will develop a plan for improving your time management skills.
Take a short quiz to determine how well you are at time management and the areas where you need assistance. Go to http://www.mindtools.com and search “How good is your time management”. Click the link to take the quiz. The results will include strategies for effective time management.
Now that you have completed this time management quiz, were you surprised by the results? Think about someone in your life who is highly effective. Think about the CEOs of huge companies. What about the parent who works full time and is going back to school (maybe that’s you)? How do some people seem to get so much done in one day? They only have 24 hours a day, right?
There are many strategies to time management. Those who get a lot done in a day do so because they effectively manage their time. Here are some strategies.
- Create a schedule
- Do less, focus more
- Positive self-talk
Source: (Ann Farrell, personal communication, September, 2014)
What is the most important thing that needs to be done? Create your MVP (Most Valuable Priority). These are the things that you need to work on first. These are the things that are most important to you. Don’t forget to put MVPs that aren’t considered work or school such as family time or religious services.
Create a Schedule
This can be done in many different ways. Some prefer paper calendars and others like the schedule on their phone. I use a calendar but I also use a whiteboard in my office. It is separated by long term projects for school and work. A to-do list of things that I need to do for my family. Then a weekly list of things that I need to get done that week. I spend Sunday evening organizing the next week. As I complete the task I get to erase it from my white board…Yeah…my favorite part. Whatever means works for you, just do it!
Do Less, Focus More
Organization is extremely important. Look at those MVPs and schedule time for them. Ninety minute blocks are very effective. Might seem silly at first to block time in your schedule to play a game with the kids or watch your favorite TV show with your spouse. You can also schedule study time or time to work on your assignments. During these blocks of ninety minutes, there are no interruptions, including electronic interruptions. This is time for you to work on your MVP. It’s amazing how much you can get done with ninety uninterrupted minutes on one task.
Have you ever heard an Olympic athlete say “I don’t think I can finish this race?” No! World class athletes have mental toughness and positivity. This same positivity can be applied to your pursuit of your graduate degree. Don’t use words like “if I finish”, instead “when I finish… .” Positive intelligence has been shown to be a good indicator of success.
People with high levels of Positive Intelligence (PQ)
Now is a good time to create a schedule.
Use the worksheet at Mindtools to develop a weekly schedule. Go to http://www.mindtools.com and search Effective Scheduling to find the worksheet. First write in all of your MVPs with 90-minute blocks. If you have a job, write in your work schedule including meetings, regular appointments, etc. Indicate time spent for commuting or transportation. List times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Write in realistic amounts of time for life maintenance activities such as laundry, shopping, household, personal, and family responsibilities. Write in sufficient time for sleeping. Sleep is important!
We all experience stress. How we deal with stress is an important factor to how successful we are.
Here are some helpful stress management techniques (Charmine, 2012).
Identify your Sources of Stress. What can you eliminate? Knowing the sources of stress will allow you better understand how to manage these stressors.
Care for Self. It’s easy to forget to do something for yourself. Sometimes you might feel like you don’t have time to do something for yourself. You must schedule this time, even if it’s ten minutes a day. Take a bath, read a fun book, laugh, do a hobby. Just do something for YOU!
Exercise. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress. Keeps the weight off and is healthy for you. Try to get 15 minutes a day.
Stay Organized. Being unorganized can create additional stress. Give yourself the gift of completing an assignment early. It feels so much better than procrastinating and feeling rushed to meet a deadline. Make sure you utilize the time management strategies you learned in this module.
Stay Positive. Remember the research on positive intelligence? It’s important that you are in a good frame of mind. Envision yourself being successful.
Learn to Say No. For some, this is hard. You are not effective to anyone if you are stretched too thin. Chose what is most important to you and focus on doing this thing well.
Employ the Help of Others. No, others can’t help you complete your assignments but they can help with household chores and other responsibilities. Let others give you the gift of help.
Find your Stress Reliever. Then do it! Do you like to journal? Have lunch with a friend? Maybe it’s playing a game with your children or taking a run. Whatever works best for you, put it on your calendar and make this a priority.
Sleep. Getting adequate sleep is crucial. Being well rested gives you a better frame of mind and makes you more productive in all aspects of your life.