It’s no secret that time waits for no one, and when you’re trying to juggle a job, studying, family commitments and keeping the house in order, this can certainly become very clear. Life can feel incredibly busy and, at times, overwhelming. Learning some effective time management strategies can be a game changer.
Time management doesn’t just help you fit everything in, but can create space for success in each area of your life. More productive use of time takes away the rush and enables you to take more care where needed. This can have a positive impact on your study outcomes, career progression, relationships, and even your mental health and wellbeing.
If you began studying a course during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be that you’re now in the process of moving toward more normality in your life and trying to work out how to fit everything in. Or perhaps you’re just feeling like you’re constantly trying to catch up. Let’s get you started on achieving work/life/study balance with these practical tips.
Tips for better time management
Find how you work best
Everyone is different. For some people, tackling the biggest challenge of the day right away is the best way forward. Others may prefer to get the little bits and pieces done first to get some things crossed off the list. Are you more focused in the morning, afternoon or evening? Get to know how you work and when you are most efficient to use these times to your advantage.
Avoid procrastination and distractions
Procrastination and distraction can eat away at our precious time. It’s incredible how easily we can be distracted even when we know we really need to be doing something else. Try to remove any potential sources of distraction so you can get the job done. For example, if you often find yourself picking up your phone habitually to go for a scroll, put your phone in a different room when you need to focus on studying.
Instead of just writing a generic to-do list, consider how you can prioritise your tasks. There are many approaches to prioritising. One you could try is the Eisenhower Matrix, which recommends categorising your tasks into four quadrants. 1: Urgent and Important. You should do these first. 2: Important but Less Urgent. You should schedule these. 3: Less Important but Urgent. Delegate these if possible. 4: Less Important and Less Urgent. Think about whether you really need to do these at all! If you’re unsure about how to prioritise your study, check with your experienced trainer for guidance.
Good time management requires a bit of forward planning, so try to envision what your day will look like in advance. Allocating specific chunks of time for different tasks will help you to get a clear vision of what will fit where. Allow for travel time, lunch and breaks too.
Create systems and routines
Once you have started tracking how long certain tasks take you, you can begin to create better systems which will help you to get more time out of your day. And be flexible enough to change it up if it’s not working. For example, if checking emails in the morning is holding you back from getting on to more important tasks, then try setting emails aside until midday.
Break it up
Sitting there and forcing yourself to complete a huge task can actually make you less productive. Break down big tasks into smaller tasks such as reading, making notes, editing and so on. If you’re stuck, move on to another task and come back to it rather than just staring at the screen or page.
There is no point in putting fifty tasks on your to-do list for the day if you can only get five done. When allocating when you will get things done, consider exactly what needs to be done and how long it will actually take.
Ask for help
It sounds simple, but the result of asking for help is usually that you get it. Whether you need a bit more time, some understanding of personal circumstances, to change things around, or some guidance to get it right, the act of asking for help can stop you from wasting time on stress or plugging away aimlessly. At Selmar our trainers are there to motivate you and guide you at every stage throughout your course. Available via phone, email, online conference or even in person, they can give you handy resources and individualised support as needed. If reading, writing or maths are your biggest challenges, or perhaps English is your second language, Selmar’s Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) Support Coordinator will get you on track with learning plans and tools tailored to your specific needs.
Use time management tools
There are so many tools you can use to create schedules to help you with managing your time more effectively. Online options can help you track how long you are working on any given task and enable you to clearly see what needs to be done and when.
- RescueTime: With this software you can track your habits, block websites that distract you, set goals and alerts to keep you on track.
- Monday: View your tasks and timelines at a glance, track time spent on each task, use automation tools to make life easier.
- Toggl: Track how long tasks take you across various devices to help you make smarter choices about how you schedule your time.
If apps and software don’t work for you, there are still other ways to manage your time. Tip: use a greylead pencil or whiteboard marker so you can erase and rewrite as needed – no one needs scribbles everywhere when they’re trying to get organised!
- Use a whiteboard: A trusty whiteboard give you an at a glance reminder of your tasks, assigned days and times and what’s coming up. Update on a weekly or monthly basis.
- Desk calendar or diary: A calendar or diary can be a useful tool in your time management arsenal, enabling you to schedule your tasks in on each specific day of the week, month, year.
- Daily to-do list: Many people still swear by a notepad with a handwritten to-do list. You can update it daily, weekly or both to keep on top of everything and carry it in your bag wherever you go.
Make your time work for you
On top of time management, study tips can help you be more effective while undertaking a course and may include things like getting adequate exercise and sleep, eating well and learning how to study with children at home.
Making life easier while still managing to get it all done is achievable. Time management skills can be learned and with a few strategies in place, you can enjoy a study/work/life balance in no time.
If you’re studying with Selmar and are feeling like you could use some guidance to better manage your workload, chat to your trainer about how we can help you.
If you’re thinking of studying, learn more about our early childhood education or aged care courses or contact us today!