Welcome back, collegians! We hope that you had a restful winter break and are ready to start the semester with a clean slate and a fresh outlook. The beginning of a semester is a great time to take stock of your wellness wheel: what are some areas you’d like to focus on or adjust? What lessons did you learn last semester that you can apply towards being your best self this semester?
One thing that is true for all of us is that the way we manage our time plays a major role in keeping our personal wellness wheels in balance. After all, it takes time and planning to take care of your academic, financial, emotional, social, and physical wellness. So, for our first Wellness Wednesday of the spring semester, let’s brush up on our time management skills! Follow these three tips to kick your time management habits into high gear:
Step One: Examine How You Are Spending Your Time
Imagine the time that you have in your life as a circle or a pie. There are 168 hours in a week, no more, no less. You divide up that time into your various activities – pieces of different sizes – but the pie is not going to get any bigger. If you add additional activities or spend more time on certain activities, other pieces will need to get smaller or be eliminated. Keep track of how you spend your time for a week, then draw your Pie of Life using the template below to represent how much time you spend on each of the activities in your life (e.g. texting, studying, sleeping, work, family, friends, classes, etc.):
Now, ask yourself:
- Are you happy with the amount of time you spend on each activity?
- Are there any activities that you feel are not getting a sufficient amount of time? If so, target one or two priority activities to increase on your Pie of Life. Remember, however, that to increase the amount of time spent on those activities, you will need to target other activities to decrease or eliminate.
- What are you willing to sacrifice to increase your target activities?
Step Two: Anticipate and Plan
Now that you’ve really evaluated how much time you’ll need to devote to each of your responsibilities, you’ll need to map out your time in advance. Use a calendar, day planner, or an electronic planner to keep track of deadlines, tests, and weekly commitments. Additionally, try using a time management worksheet (like this one) to plan out your week on an hour-by-hour basis. Finally, make a to-do list every day. Making these lists is a memory jogger to remind you of what has to be done, and also allows you to keep track of all you’ve accomplished as you cross things off!
Step Three: Break Tasks Down
Whether you are faced with a big task, such as graduating in 4 years, or smaller tasks such as studying for a final, it helps if you break the task down into smaller, more manageable parts. Students who procrastinate often comment that when they wait to the last minute to complete a project, they feel overwhelmed, and the task seems insurmountable. By setting priorities and breaking the bigger project into smaller tasks, the work is more manageable, and less intimidating.
Here’s how to break tasks down:
- Look at the big picture; make sure you understand what the end product is supposed to look like.
- Look at the parts. What pieces will enable you to get to the whole? Figure out step-by step what you need to do.
- Think about the logical order of completing the pieces. What should you do first, second, third, etc.?
- Create a timeline for completing your tasks.
- Have a plan to help you stay on track. Put the time you will spend on the project into your study schedule so that you can set aside the time for it. Stick with this plan. A plan is only good if you see it through.
- Complete it early enough to have some time left for a final review.
As you strategize for effective time management this semester, remember: procrastination is never the answer! Procrastination can lead to many sleepless nights (literally) and can negatively impact every aspect of your wellness. Learn to plan, and plan well. It’s a skill that will continue to serve you long after graduation!