Strategies for staying focused and getting things done
If you are currently enrolled in school, chances are you are always looking for more time to prepare for class, to study for an exam, to pay your bills and balance your check book, and these are probably just a few of the many responsibilities you handle in your daily life. Or maybe you are juggling a busy work life with a hectic home life.
Do you frequently feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Do you often wonder why there aren’t more hours in the day? Do you have coursework or projects piling up? Whether you are a student or out in the work world, you can benefit from developing solid time management skills. They can help you be more productive, less stressed, and more successful at work, home, and school.
We’ve gathered some techniques that you might find useful as you evaluate where you spend your time, if there’s room for improvement, or if you are a time management expert!
Find a system that works for you
Everyone is different. We all approach things from varying points of view. What might work for your friend or co-worker might not work for you and vice versa. Sometimes, you might try a technique, like keeping a daily or weekly calendar, that your friend has suggested, and it will be just the answer you were looking for. Other times, it might be clear very quickly that is just isn’t for you. And that’s perfectly fine. Keep trying until you land on the techniques that help you carve the time you need for specific tasks. Find some specific organizational systems in this article from MindTools.com.
Own your distractions
We all have soft spots for certain things that help us procrastinate when we don’t want to face the task at hand. It could be music, TV, video games, the phone, or that closet that hasn’t been cleaned in over two years. Know your distractions. Keep your work space free and clear of them, even if it means you face your desk toward a blank wall and have nothing on it besides your computer, a lamp, and your books for school. Resist busying yourself with projects like the closet until you have completed the priority items on your list. Speaking of priority…
If your to-do list is long enough to wall paper your living room, it’s time to prioritize. Again, pick what works for you. If a sense of accomplishment will keep you moving forward, start with the easier, shorter tasks so you can see quick progress.
Maybe you are energized by accomplishing the bigger tasks first and see the easier ones as a reward at the end. Then load your to-do list with the heavy lifting at the top and work your way down to the easier items.
Pick your time
Some people work best first thing in the morning while others like the afternoons or working long into the night. Pick the most important tasks on any given day, like studying for a test or preparing a presentation, and put them in the time slot that best suits your work/study style.
Ask for help
We all need help every so often, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it. Ask your teacher for some advice on time management strategies or study skills. Join a study group if you’re having trouble completing coursework on time. Don’t be afraid to reach out at school and ask for tutoring help. If you are in the working world, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to brainstorm how you can more effectively manage your time in the workplace.
The early bird…
You’ve probably heard this one before, but consider getting up earlier. You’d be surprised how much you can get done by setting your alarm 30 or 45 minutes earlier than you normally do. Start out slowly by trying this one or two days a week. However, you might find it to be so helpful, you’ll be jumping out of bed earlier every day!
We hope that these techniques will lead you to finding time in your schedule that can be used to keep you on track, organized and meeting your goals!
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. Find out more about our career training programs or visit us online to schedule a campus tour.