Finding time to work and go to college can be a huge challenge. You aren’t alone. Like many non-traditional students you have other responsibilities and commitments. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything you have to do.
Success depends on your ability to manage your most critical resource -- time. Here’s a list of three tips to help manage your time and achieve your goal of affordably becoming a college graduate:
Make a list of all the things you need to do. Stephen Covey’s time tested concept of putting First Things First still holds true today. Distinguish between high priority versus low priority tasks. Try to label them. H1 could be a high priority task with a H2 and H3 holding a slightly lower position. Do the same with lower priority tasks using the labels L1, L2, L3 for less important tasks that aren’t urgent. Turn your priorities into a daily to-do list, grouping the 1’s, 2’s and 3’s together. Each day, reconfigure the list and reward yourself for completing your most important tasks.
"Time is the great equalizer. Everyone has the same 24 hours a day to work with."
Time management is also about energy management. Know yourself. Are you a morning person or do you work better late at night? Lock in specific times to accomplish your tasks. Determine how long each task will take and how much energy it will require. For high priority tasks requiring the most energy, schedule those activities during a time of day when you normally have the most energy and do your best work.
Reflect on Efficiencies
At the end of your day, take a few minutes to reflect on how many tasks you were able to complete. Assess what you’ll do in the future to be more efficient. Which tasks took longer than expected? What distractions or interruptions pulled you off task? One example might include muting your phone to keep it from constantly buzzing with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter notifications. Social media updates are distracting when you’re working on a project or writing a paper.
What about your commute? How much time do you spend driving between home, work, and school? Are there online courses you can take to save several hours per week and gain control over when you attend class and access your study tools?
Time is the great equalizer. Everyone has the same 24 hours a day to work with. You may not have control over every minute of the day, but practicing these three steps will help you fit family, work, and college into your schedule. Success is a series of daily commitments. Accomplish your highest priority tasks first and fit the little things into the spaces between.