Back to School Time Management Tips from Penelope

Time management is a biggie especially when you’re adjusting to getting back to school. As Penelope the Pink Moose is a major proponent of prompt, punctual, and punctilious deportment, she has a few ideas on how to keep your cool when you face the renewed demands of school.

Most time management programs and systems are based on clock time. If you punch a clock at work, this is important. But most of our lives (and much of our work) takes place in real time, that sometimes has very little to do with clock time. Here are a few straightforward steps to help you get a grip on the time that might be flying away from you.

First of all you must know how you spend your time. You might think that’s easy, “I work 8 hours each day,” or “I am taking 18 credit hours this semester.” But really look at how you are spending your day. Keep a small spiral notebook in your pocket. For one week, jot down in that notebook everything you do and how long each activity takes. Include everything, taking a shower, posting on Facebook, walking to class, taking a nap, eating a bagel, sipping a Blossom Water. Once you have an idea of how much time you spend in your activities, you’ll have some information you can work with.

Here are Penelope’s 6 favorite Time Management tips:

  1. Create a weekly life schedule based on what you learn from your week of diligent note taking about your daily activities. Be realistic, but be a little bit flexible, too. Allow time for planning. Make sure you include time for exercise. Don’t forget to schedule some time to relax or goof off.
  2. Make a To Do List everyday. Put your priorities at the top. Try to finish the things you dread first. Give yourself a reward for checking off everything on your list.
  3. Know yourself. Know what time of day you are most productive. Are you a night owl or a morning person? Schedule your work during times when you are naturally most productive. Do you work better with music or in silence? Invest in a good pair of headphones that can deliver what you need.
  4. Create a dedicated study time. Treat this special time as if it is sacred. It is. You are working on your future, after all. Clear away all distractions – turn off your phone.
  5. Stay focused. If you find yourself getting distracted by unimportant things that waste your time, get back to your To Do list. If you find that something seemingly unimportant keeps interrupting your thoughts, maybe it’s more important than you think. Deal with it. Then get back to your To Do list.
  6. Sleep! College students are some of the most sleep-deprived people on earth. It is likely you need more sleep. Get some! Sleep will help you manage stress. A good night’s sleep will help your ability to learn, your efficiency, your reaction time, your memory, your mood, your health. You name it. Shakespeare describes sleep as  “Sore labor’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.” (Act 2, Scene 2, Macbeth) He knew what he was talking about.

These steps are simple but not necessarily easy. Once you have taken the time to make some time for yourself, your life will feel richer. You wont have to rush around; you’ll be able to reduce stress and enjoy your life and your work a little bit more. Give it two weeks. One week to make notes; one week to take action. Penelope thinks you’ll notice a difference.