I’ve been taking some time off of college for reasons I won’t discuss here. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned valuable skills in the time I have spent in classes. Managing your time in college is so important to your success that you must learn different time management skills throughout your college career.
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That being said, I’ve picked up quite a few time management skills along the way. Many of which I am able to carry over into my day-to-day life. All of them have proven to be useful in one area or another, and all of them are necessary when it comes to juggling college life and everyday life. Especially as a parent.
I’ve taken quite a few college classes in a number of different areas and I cannot think of one of these skills that weren’t useful to me in every class. You don’t want to be stuck with a big project and a bunch of small projects with no direction or sense of how to accomplish all of them.
College is the one place we’re all tested in our time management skills, but it isn’t the last place we’ll ever use those skills. Getting a strong foundation in time management will lead to success in other areas of your life as well. And less of the stress involved with having a lot going on in your life.
I’m sure that some of these time management skills are pretty common sense, but they’re worth stating. Others may not seem like time management skills, but they most certainly are. How many of these do you employ in your daily life?
The Time Management Skills I’ve Learned
1. Keep a Calendar
This has to be one of the top time management skills anyone can learn. And it doesn’t only apply to college, although it is particularly useful when taking a handful of classes at once. I’m a planner nerd and actually use more than one calendar on a regular basis. I have a different planner for different areas of my life so that I can keep things separate. But I also have a calendar on which I track big tasks throughout all areas of my life.
Color-coding your calendar can be extremely helpful when it comes to spacing out your time because you can begin to recognize the colors to mean something. For example, in my calendar, I like to use one color for appointments, one for my kid’s events/school functions/sporting functions, and another for blogging tasks. When I was taking my classes I had a color for each class. This way I could keep track of when my classes were and on what days. It makes it easy to get a quick glance of your day without sitting there and reading through all of your tasks for the day.
2. Start Small
While I was taking classes I would have a number of assignments each week, some big and some small. The easiest way I found to complete all of my assignments on time and properly was to complete the easiest and smallest projects first. This left plenty of room for the larger projects and assignments. And it removed the stress of having a ton left to do while I worked on a bigger assignment. This method can easily be applied to all other areas of life too!
If you have a bunch of small, easy tasks for the day and just one or two big tasks, you’re actually going to want to do the smaller tasks first. Getting the easy to accomplish tasks out of the way will help you feel (and be) more productive. Accomplishing the small tasks gives you a motivation boost to move onto the bigger task. Plus, if you get caught up with a bigger task and it takes longer than expected, you don’t have to worry about running out of time for the smaller tasks.
3. Break It Up
This one can go without saying. It can be a pain to tackle large projects or tasks throughout your day or week. But breaking them up into small manageable parts makes it much easier to accomplish them.
I had mostly applied this to big projects and studying for tests, but it also rolls over into my daily life. Take laundry, for example, that’s always a big project. But I break up my load throughout the day and by the evening I’ve finished all of the laundry while I was taking care of other tasks too.
4. Schedule Your Time
This skill goes hand-in-hand with keeping a calendar. I like to use daily planners that allow me to plan my day by the hour. This way I can schedule different tasks throughout the day. I loved utilizing this method for scheduling time to work on assignments or study for tests.
But you can do this with your daily routine as well to be sure that you have enough time to complete everything you need to do. Another benefit to scheduling your time is that it can help you develop a daily routine, such as a morning or evening routine. If you’re like me, you need a routine in order to get anything done throughout the day. Without a routine, I will end up sitting around wondering what I should do. And then I end up getting nothing done instead.
5. Take Breaks
This may not sound like it falls under time management skills but it most definitely is. In order to be your most productive self, you have to give yourself a chance to take a break once in a while.
This was super important when I was studying because I would lose focus after a while and become easily distracted. Once I started incorporating breaks into my study time, I found myself to be more productive. I was also retaining information a lot better because I gave my brain a chance to rest before refocusing on the information.
When you’re scheduling your day and planning what you’ll be doing throughout the day, try incorporating a few 15-minute breaks in between big tasks to give you a chance to refresh and refocus. Otherwise, you’re going to wear yourself thin and quickly lose interest in the rest of your to-do list.
6. Stay Organized
Clutter is a great way to be sure that you’re distracted. It also leads to less productivity. Imagine this, you’re planning a family dinner with your extended family and you need to cook this huge meal. But, you’re cabinets and fridge are in no way organized. You spend so much time looking for all of the right ingredients that you end up starting the meal later than planned. Now you’re off schedule and rushing through the prepping and cooking. This can easily lead to injury or mistakes while you’re cooking.
Organization should have a place in every area of your life for the simple fact that it saves you time. It can be hard to get organized at first, but once you do you’ll be so glad you did it. If you need some inspiration for your organization projects you can check out my Pinterest board on organizing and minimizing. Don’t rush into it though because you’ll quickly lose steam. Start with one room of your house and work slowly to get your home organized. Taking it one step at a time will ensure that you’ll still have the energy and focus to finish every area of your home and life.
7. Adjusting Your Plan
Okay, hear me out. Making adjustments can be a time management skill. Because we all know that things come up and we get pushed off track. But if you make room in your plan for adjustments, you won’t be thrown far off course when something comes up and you need to make changes.
In order to make sure that you’re prepared for adjustments and changes, you need to be sure that you aren’t overbooking yourself. When you sit down and schedule out your time, make sure you’re not filling in every second of the day. You want to have some wiggle room for the unexpected.
This has screwed me up a few times because I’ve overbooked myself and signed up for way too many responsibilities before. And when something would happen that would require a change, I had no room to squeeze in an extra project or add time to a project I already had.
I touched on prioritizing already. But it deserves attention of its own when discussing time management skills. Because I know that you have a lot on your plate and a lot do I want you to pay special attention to this skill. It can be easy to get caught up in what we have to do and not focus on how we’re going to accomplish it all.
When you plan your day or your tasks, you have to set them up based on priority. What tasks are most important or what absolutely has to be completed today? Those tasks should take the most focus.
An easy way to set priority to your tasks is to color code them. Such as using red for high priority tasks, and green for low priority tasks. This way when you glance at your schedule for the day you already can see how much you absolutely have to get done that day and what items can handle being set aside if need be.
9. Remove Distractions
With as connected as we all are these days, it can be extremely hard to remove all distractions when we’re working on high priority tasks. But it is a must if we want to increase our productivity. And luckily, there are apps and browser extensions that can help us with that.
If you are a Facebook browser and easily get caught up in the scroll, you definitely are going to want to try one of these apps. They allow you to set your phone or browser to block distractions for a set period of time encouraging you to be more productive and less distracted.
A few of them you may want to try are Focus for Google Chrome, Forest for your phone or computer, and Freedom. Freedom only works on Mac, Windows or ios though so for Android users this one is not an option.
10. The To-Do List
In order to be productive, you have to have things to do right?! Well, duh, of course. So keeping a running to-do list is something I definitely encourage. I like to use my running to-do list to tracks tasks I want to accomplish. This one isn’t necessarily where I would keep necessary tasks, but somewhere to keep tasks that I can add to my day if I have time available.
You can also keep a running to-do list full of must-do tasks and use your priority color coding to keep track of which ones have to be finished first.
Pair your to-do list with your calendar and daily schedule and you’ll be your most productive self yet.
How many of these did you realize were time management skills? How many of them do you already employ in your day-to-day life? Let me know in the comments and tell me what skills you would like to work on.