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Learning How to Use your Time Effectively and Efficiently

Updated: Jul 13, 2018

In the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, it is hard to be always productive. From cell phone notifications to having an overwhelming amount of work, there are a lot of obstacles that can decrease our motivation and our productivity. Having good time management skills is a good tool to utilize during a busy day. Not only can it help us manage our time better but it can also lead to a decrease in stress and an increase in self-confidence.

One of the biggest obstacles to good time management is multi-tasking. The idea of multi-tasking is a myth. There are many studies that now show how our brains can only focus on one task.[1] When we multi-task, we are splitting our concentration on two different tasks at the same time. Some call this action switch-tasking, which can decrease our overall productivity because we are not utilizing our full effort and concentration on each task. Decreasing our distractions can increase our chances of having a more productive use of time.

Another important part of time management is having a set plan. When we have a particularly large list of tasks to complete, assign an order of importance to each first. Then make up a set time for each task. This method is based off of the medical practice of triage. In a busy hospital, doctors have to determine which person has the most severe injuries and attend to them first. This will not only help us visualize and pace ourselves, but it can also help us stay on task and get the most important things done first.

In addition to creating a set plan, organize our day further by assigning dates to each task can be helpful. Using calendars and agendas not only help us in reminding of tasks but it also helps us plan long-term goals. Having a paper calendar or agenda is helpful when we need to refer to it during a meeting or class. Having a digital reminder is good for setting times for important tasks. Our brains can only remember or think so much in a given time, using these tools will help our life feel less chaotic and more organized.

Make sure that we allow ourselves some breaks as well. Studies show that giving our brains a break can increase our overall productivity.[2] Whether the break is 30 seconds or an hour, breaks provide the brain time to pause for a moment before getting back to the task at hand. Try to be creative with the breaks as well. If we are working on a computer, then try to not spend time on the phone as a break. Mix it up by taking deep breathes, doing a quick exercise, or talking with someone.

Most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself. If we forgot to do something or it took longer than we thought, simply reschedule a time for it. When we previously assigned a time or day to a given task, we didn’t know exactly how hard or long it would take until after we tackle it. The key to anything is balance and being flexible with ourself is one way to ensure that we are able to feel productive and successful when we are tackling all the expectations and tasks that we have.

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston S. Churchill

Post contributed by Michelle Nam

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