Time management is arguably the most important skill for post-secondary students. Many students finally get to move away from home and live away from their parents. But with all the freedom of independence and the added stress of college/university, procrastination becomes much more common. Especially during online classes, staring at a screen all day isn’t making it any easier. Here are some tips that can help you better manage your time and productivity:
Make a To-Do List
If you have a lot of assignments piled up, you might want to write them down. You don’t need a detailed calendar (we’re not discouraging it though), just a list of things you need to do and when you need to finish them. From there, you might want to prioritize if the list is long or some of them are due sooner than others. There’s no way you’ll forget and second guess yourself when you have it written down, like getting groceries.
Making a to-do list also helps you estimate how much time you’ll need to finish everything on it. If there’s a lot on it, it could be a good idea to get started early.
One Thing at a Time
We all know that multitasking doesn’t help productivity, our parents and teachers tell us that every time we do it. We understand that might be hard to do when you’ve left everything to the last second, but it’s still better to give one task 100% of your attention. Plus thinking about all the other assignments piled up while working on the task at hand doesn’t exactly do anything to motivate you.
If you’re still having trouble, break your task into components and focus on the current one. Read the textbook first, take some notes and then participate in the discussion board.
As we start post-secondary, things get more complicated and the assignments tend to take longer. Don’t expect to finish a lab report in under an hour, and don’t expect that you’ll suddenly have the resolve and motivation to study for 8 hours straight when you have been spending most of your time on Netflix and youtube for the past 2 weeks.
Make a realistic estimate of how long each task will take and go from there. But also remember things often take longer than you initially expected. If you haven’t been productive as of late, it’s wise to get started early.
Organize Your Study Space
Can’t expect to be productive and get things done when your desk reeks of tardiness. Thus, it’s also important to work in an organized and optimal environment. Clean your desk, put those pens back in the pen holder, throw away those water bottles that have been sitting in the corner for days, and make some room. This also applies to your laptop and online learning, clean your screen and keyboard, close all those unnecessary tabs and organize your documents, pdfs, or whatever in neat folders.
Proper rewards for your outstanding achievements are very necessary to reinforce productivity and avoid burnout. Did you finish your assignment in one sitting? Get back to that series you’ve been binging (if time permits) or go outside for a walk. Give yourself some time to reboot and recover, start again fresh whenever you’re ready for more.
Get Enough Sleep
Everyone tells you that sleep is important, well it really is. As much as we all love pulling all-nighters, they result in less productivity in the long term. You’ve probably heard many studies about how sleep deprivation negatively impacts cognitive performance and how driving while fatigued is a criminal offense. Sleep deprivation is also a tactic used in interrogation, if it is used to interrogate people, it can’t possibly be good for you. The moral is, try to get 8 hours of sleep.
Post-secondary exposes us to a huge variety of new opportunities (although not so much currently) and responsibilities. Whether that’s meeting new people and learning new things through clubs, or working an extra night shift at your part-time job, all of which take up considerable amounts of time. But our days aren’t getting any longer, so learn to say “no”.