Time Management Tips

April 12, 2018

Hello, everyone! I’ve organized some time management tips to help boost your productivity. There are 4 categories: Motivation, Planning, Execution and Balance. In the interest of time, let’s jump right into it!

 

Motivation

1. Figure out your top 3 priorities in life.

They could be health, career, school, family, friends, etc. No matter what these 3 priorities are, you will want to allocate some time to these aspects of your life regardless of how busy you get. These are the 3 most important things to you and you will take care of it. I also strongly recommend everyone to include health in one of your priorities (more on that later).

 

2. Figure out your true aspirations.

The keyword here is ‘true’. You want to stay true to yourself.

 

This requires some self-reflection. Imagine a future where you achieve your aspirations and focus a few snapshots of these visions. Ask yourself probing questions even if they’re uncomfortable: Do you think you will truly feel happy? If so, why? Or why not? How will that success add meaning to your life? What effects does this have on other parts of your life?

 

Note the differences between an aspiration and a priority.

Aspiration: You have not achieved it yet. You are actively working towards it. It is often specific. Eg. career aspiration to be a surgeon.

Priority: This is important in your life. You may not need to work towards it, but you will need to make time for it. Eg. family.  

 

3. Set SMARTER goals while keeping your true aspirations in mind.

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Relevant

T = Time-bound

E = Evaluated

R = Review

This SMARTER approach will give you clear, concrete goals that you can consistently work towards, and will thus significantly raise the chances of success.

 

More details here.

 

Planning

1. Allocate time for your priorities and goals.

Your main focus will be on your goals, and you will spend the majority of your time on this. Decide on specific time limits. Eg. To raise your GPA to 3.8 at the end of this semester, you may want to spend 8 hours per week for each class.

 

You also want to reserve some time for your priorities. Decide how much time would be sufficient. Eg. If your priority is health, you may want to spend 30 minutes working out everyday.

 

2. Set weekly goals and break them down into tasks.

 

Eg. This week, you may want to master all the concepts in Chapter 7 for your physics class. To do so, you may want to spend time with your lectures notes (1h), do the homework (4h) and do some extra practice problems (3h). This should roughly add up to your decided allocated time (1+4+3=8), but +/- 1h is fine.

 

3. Schedule your tasks.

Here you are arranging all your tasks to create a schedule that works best for you. The main reasons for a schedule are that you can minimize decision making, keep track of your progress, and set reminders for yourself.

 

Some extra tips on scheduling:

  • Make use of the Calendar (physical or online).

  • Include enough detail so that you know exactly what to do. Eg. Read textbook pages 30-60 from 1-2pm on Tuesday, April 10.

  • Group similar tasks together.

  • Plan for unexpected delays/tasks.

  • Reserve break times and buffer times.

  • Don’t overload yourself. Say 'no' to some things.

  • Make use of technology. There are many to-do list/scheduling applications. Just Google them and choose one that you find most attractive.  

  • A white board or a journal works fine too. You get to scratch the tasks out when you’re done. Always satisfying.

  • Keep track of your progress. You can use online tools such as Toggl.

 

Execution

1. Fight procrastination.

There are a few great ways to do this:

  • Imagine the (exaggerated) negative consequences. Think: If I don’t do this now, I won’t have enough time to sleep and I will be extremely tired the next day. This will spiral into a cycle of tiredness and inefficiency, and I won’t be able to get an A if I go down this path. I need to do this NOW.

  • Remind yourself of your main goals to get motivated.

  • Just do it. Don’t think further.

Now, you can also choose to turn procrastination into something positive. You can procrastinate on your big tasks of the day by working on your smaller tasks. Thus you maintain your productivity. For example, I need to get my math homework done today, but I am doing research for this blog. Oh, but I will still get my homework done by tonight. That’s non-negotiable.

 

2. Remove distractions.

I’m not sure what your main distractions are, but here are some common ones: SOCIAL MEDIA, shopping, food, video games, friends or lovers (even if they may be one of your priorities), memes, cute dog pictures, etc.

 

Whatever it is, cut off the source of that distraction. Most of the time, that means turning off your phone. Get into a library, a coffee shop, or your own room. Get into your work mode. Get your task done.

 

You can also make your distractions less accessible and out-of-sight. Eg. I moved all my social media applications to the third page of my home screen. I deleted all my korean drama shortcuts.

 

Regarding relationships (family, friends, or lovers), there will be times you need to firmly refuse hangouts or chats. Make sure to tell them that they are still your priority and that they are still on your schedule… just not NOW, not for 3 more hours.

 

3. Don’t strive for perfection.

Perfection is an impossibly high standard. You’ll never have enough time if you want everything to be perfect. Save yourself some trouble and don’t stress out over the little details. 96% is still a pretty great score.

 

This shouldn’t be an excuse for mediocre work. You should still strive for excellence.

 

Balance

1. Take care of your health.

Your health should be one of your priorities. If your health fails, you cannot work on your goals effectively and you will not be happy or comfortable. Taking care of your health means that you sleep enough (6-9 h/day), eat enough (meat, vegetables and fruits), and rest enough (during your scheduled breaks).

 

2. Spend time on relationships.

No matter how busy you get, you should still have enough human contact. You don’t have to spend 1 hour with your friends everyday, but you should still keep in touch with them regularly. Messaging your friends about something funny you experienced takes only a few minutes but it will keep them updated about your life. *Just be sure to leave the conversation if you need to work on a task.

 

3. Spend time for yourself.

You want to spend some time doing the things that you enjoy. Try not to do too many mentally exhausting things even if you enjoy them. The point is to give your mind a good rest so that you can be recharged to “beast mode” at work. Some good activities are yoga, meditation, taking walks, listening to music, and more sleep.

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