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Healthy Living - Time Management

Sabra JacobsWe hear a lot about time management and how it is supposed to be a good and useful tool to become successful. But just what is good time management and how can someone accomplish it?

Time management isnt really about managing time as much as it is about effectively managing our behaviors within the time allotment we have. For instance, no one can actually extend their number of hours in a day nor can they make their days shorter, but they can increase their efficiency in their tasks so that they can have more time for work, recreation, family time, or other interests. Heres how its done:

First, keep a log about how you currently spend your time on a regular day. You should break your time log into half-hour units of time. It would be ideal if you did this every day for 1 to 2 weeks. You may be surprised at how much time you are devoting to sleeping, watching television, eating, chatting/texting on the phone, going out with friends or family members, etc.

Next, analyze how much time you tend to spend on what types of activities each day. For instance, if you watch an average of 6 hours of television, 8 hours of sleeping, 1 hour on schoolwork, 5 hours of communicating with your friends, etc. This analysis will give you a realistic estimate not only on how much time you are spending on various activities, but also where your current priorities are. For instance, placing sleeping and television time ahead of schoolwork and family obligations.

Next, make a list of short-term goals, or, in other words, what needs to get done on a daily basis, and see how close you are to actually matching your current routine to meeting your short-term goals. In this list, make a note of how much time you need (not want) to spend sleeping, eating, talking to friends and family members, working on schoolwork, working your day/night job (if applicable), commuting to school/work/social events, etc. Chances are that your two lists may have some significant deviations. What this means is that it is time to alter your daily habits to reach your daily goals.

Finally, create a new schedule for your daily routine. Decide when you should try to wake up in the morning and when you should plan on going to bed. Decide when your classes and homework should occur. Decide when you will have your daily mealtimes. Decide when you will answer emails, texts, visit with family members and friends. It is usually a good idea to plan on setting aside no more than an hour or two a day responding to emails, telephone calls and text messages. Just make sure that your new schedule has allotted enough time for you to reach your short-term goals each day.

Keep in mind that it may take some time to adapt to your new daily routine. You may have to ignore your automatic tendencies to pick up the phone or surf the net, etc. at your usual whims and only do these tasks according to your new schedule. But if you stick with it, then you are likely to become much more organized and much more efficient with your timehopefully leaving you with less stress and more time to enjoy your favorite things.

Here are some helpful time management tips to consider when you are constructing your new daily schedule:

  • Allow time for interruptions
  • Set realistic goals
  • Delegate tasks when appropriate
  • Set aside time for yourself each day
  • Consolidate trips and tasks.
  • Cross-out or check off completed tasks as they are finished
  • Dont carry over unimportant tasks to the next day
  • Reward yourself for better time management

Suggested References:

The 25 Best Time Management Tools amp; Techniques: How to Get More Done Without Driving Yourself Crazy (2005). Dodd amp; Sundheim. Peak Performance Press.

Getting Organized: Learning How to Focus, Organize and Prioritize (2005). Crouch. Memphis: Dawson.

1,000 Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets (2006). Novak. Naperville, Ill: Sourcebook.

The Successful Persons Guide to Time Management (1984). Fetsch amp; Flashman. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.

Questions or Comments? Please contact: Sabra Jacobs, Professor of Psychology, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, 1 Bert T. Combs Drive, Prestonsburg, KY 41653; email sabra.jacobs@kctcs.edu; call (606) 889-4778; or stop by my office Pike Building, room 209 f on the Prestonsburg Campus.