Time management is not as simple as maintaining a calendar and to-do list. Even with optimal effort your time management attempts can fail. Online students should especially know what kinds of mistakes to avoid.
Going in alone.
Chances are you have people around you who can lend a helping hand. Now is not the time to be a superhero and go it alone. Enlist the help of others and delegate away. Remember that TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.
Not getting your priorities straight.
Prioritizing your to-do list helps you accomplish more by reducing stress. You will have the peace of mind knowing that what really needs to be done is at the top of your list and won't be missed. This reduced stress will help you stay focused and really feel like you're reaching your goals.
Taking on too much.
One sure way to get burned out is by taking on too much. You can handle a lot, but you can't do it all. Make sure you have an adequate amount of time in your day to meet all of your responsibilities. If not, you'll have to reduce what you have on your plate because you just can't add hours to your day.
Okay, it's 4 PM and you've allowed yourself one hour to read the next chapter in your course book. Now where is that book? Great, now you just spent 15 minutes looking for it, so you're already behind!
Being disorganized with have a devastating affect on your productivity when you're running a tight schedule. Not to mention it'll send your stress level over the edge. It may take you a little extra time, but making sure you're organized can save you hours of frustration and possibly stop you from taking years off of your life.
Wasting too much time planning instead of doing.
You can have the best planner or time management device that money can buy, but if you don't actually perform the tasks listed, then it's not doing you any good.
Too many people get caught up in trying to figure out the perfect time management system and then waste too much time setting it up. You system doesn't have to be elaborate or complex. Typically the simpler the better.
Regardless of the type of system you have just make sure you are actually using it. Don't waste all of your time coming up with your plan and not having enough time to actually put it in action.
Not leaving room for error.
Even the best laid plans can go awry. You can't control all external circumstances, so it's necessary to leave room for error.
- Pad your drive with an extra 20 minutes in case traffic is backed up.
- Allow yourself an extra 30 minutes of study time in case there are interruptions.
Plan for things to go wrong and you schedule will stay on track when they do.
Not using time wisely.
Time is a precious resource and you want to make sure you're making the most of it. Although you may be running around like crazy, being busy does not mean you are actually using your time wisely.
When planning your schedule think about how you can streamline your duties to get the most accomplished, as well as considering outside distractions and your energy levels throughout the day. Remember you don't want to be busy, you want to be productive.
Leaving it to your memory.
Your brain is not a bottomless storage box. The more you have to remember the more likely it is that you'll forget something…and chances are it'll be something important.
Writing everything down will not only help you get everything accomplished but it will also give you peace of mind. You won't have to worry about remembering everything that needs to be done because you'll know that it's down on paper in case you forget.
When you write things down on paper, your brain cells won't be so consumed with remembering everything, and they can be used for other things…like learning your school work!
Multitasking when it's not effective.
One myth about multitasking is that it's the best way to get a lot done in a little amount of time. This just isn't always the case.
While multitasking does allow you to cross a few things off of your list at once, the distractions that come with it can cause you to do a poor job. This may mean you to have to repeat some of your duties, which actually takes up more time that you just don't have.
Humans aren't like the Energizer Bunny™. We can't keep going and going. Taking necessary breaks actually helps you to get more done rather than less. Allowing for breaks will give your brain and body a chance to recharge.
So go ahead, take a break. You need it, you want it and you'll be more productive for it.
Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer and will soon be the mother of six young children born within a 5-year span. Her writing focuses on strategies for busy parents to juggle it all.