Time Management

Planning how we will use our time makes our lives less hectic. Learning to set priorities and working efficiently to meet them can actually open up more time for leisure and recreation.

The main tool for long-term planning is simply a calendar. You can purchase economical calendars that are standard notebook size. As an option, you could purchase a smaller pocket-sized version and attach it to the inside of your binder using Velcro. Whichever type you use, this calendar should be located in the very front of your notebook so you can quickly record important assignments, meetings, or personal dates.

Shorter-term planning can be accomplished by using a special insert available in the LAC's display shelves labeled "Time and Materials Management." This page that has two columns. In the left column are blocks reflecting the days Monday through Friday. Use these blocks to record special meetings, activities, or appointments that you need to keep up with. Remember, these are "formal" activities that will occur on a specific date, at a particular time.

It's as easy as A, B, and C...

The right column provides space to list tasks that you need to accomplish during this week. You write these down as they become known to you. These are mostly isolated activities, and they might include assignments, personal tasks, special meetings, family activities, leisure activities, and so on. You should get in the habit of adding to this list at a regular time each day: either first thing in the morning or at the end of your day. Listing such tasks needs to become a routine activity.

Next, determine the priority of each task and give it a code letter:A for activities that are urgent and important, B for activities that are important but not urgent, and C for activities that are neither urgent or important. Another way to think of it is that the Atasks are today's "must do's": finishing the paper that is due in your English class, picking up a friend at the airport, or studying for a major test you will have tomorrow. B tasks are "should do's": they are important, but they don't have to be done today. Left undone, they may become A's in another day or so. C tasks are basically just little filler activities; do them if you have nothing of a higher priority on your list to do. Another way to think of the right column is as a "tickler" list, periodically drawing your attention to tasks you have identified and leading you to determine whether priorities have changed.

Finally, make a point of moving all of your A tasks into open blocks of time on the other side of the page. Fill in B tasks and C tasks if there is room, and don't forget to budget time for leisure and social activities for most of your days. Draw a line through tasks as you finish them-- this gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment!

Some people are reluctant to keep "to-do" lists, concerned that doing so will make their life regimented and tedious. But those that have tried it often find that it eases stess and gives them a sense of exerting control over their busy lives. It lets you set priorities and use your time wisely, and don't forget that its OK to "schedule" leisure and family time along with the other commitments you have.



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