Time Management Tips and Strategies
by Frances S. Johnson, Ph.D.
These are strategies that I use in my own life/work that I have found to be especially helpful. Certainly, everyone has different strengths and needs, but you may find that some of these tips are useful for you.
- Make a To-Do List
- Keep it manageable
- Some sources recommend no more than 4 or 5 tasks a day (not counting the regular stuff)
- Schedule time in your day
- Small chunks of time still add up
- Try to make progress – even a little – on at least one project a day
- Some people recommend making a detailed schedule every day so you can see where your time goes
- Another thought: write down what you did and how long it took at the end of each day, so as you move forward, you know better how to budget your time for certain tasks
- Use a timer so that you stick to your schedule
- Turn off outside stimuli
- Turn off ringers, phones, and any other distractions
- If necessary, unplug the internet!
- Schedule email checking times
- Three times a day: breakfast, lunch, end of the day
- Really – it’s not an emergency!
- “Butt in Chair” Method
- When sitting down for a scheduled task, don’t get up and leave it! The dishes/laundry/oven cleaning really will wait!
- You can’t get up until the timer goes off
- Use “wasted” time
- Read a book/grade a paper while standing in line
- Public transportation community is helpful for getting work done
- Even if it takes a little longer to get to where you are going, if you use that time to do work, you are getting more bang for your buck
- Complete easy tasks while watching children’s sporting events
- Write down new ideas/projects in a notebook dedicated for that purpose
- When you have a thought related to a different project, write it down somewhere so that you can easily access it when you need it/want to work on it
- Utilize on-line resources, like Gmail and Google Docs
- I like to keep the draft of my most recent manuscript in my Gmail files, so if I find myself with time to spare and a computer handy, I can make some progress on the manuscript
- Make a monthly master calendar and place it somewhere prominent in your work space
- Put all classes, meetings, appointments, etc. on the calendar
- Put major deadlines/due dates/project progress reports on the calendar
- Choose times at the beginning of the month where you can schedule work
- This way, you won’t schedule meetings or other events unless absolutely necessary
- Reward yourself
- Spend time each day rewarding yourself for completing tasks – even if it’s only 10 minutes per day
- Use rewards as a carrot – you cannot do X until you finish Y
- LEARN TO SAY NO!
- I know, I know…good luck!
These are resources that I came across that people suggest are very helpful for time management.
Outlook Calendar (outlook.rowan.edu): Use for scheduling tasks, syncing with your personal communication devices, and keeping track of meetings. An added bonus is that if you use Outlook to keep track of your scheduled time, other Rowan users can see if you are busy – if we all used it, maybe we would have fewer meetings to attend!
Remember the Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com): A website (and iPhone app) dedicated to helping you manage your to-do lists. Lists are broken up by Personal, Study, and Work. You put in your due dates and RTM keeps track of them. You can also put in repeating due dates.
Evernotes (www.evernote.com): A website that helps you keep track of and organize a variety of things. You can take pictures of business cards with your phone and store them on Evernote. You can research websites and clip items directly from your browser into your Evernote file. You can also snap pictures from the label of your favorite wines so that you can find them again (remember, we still have to reward ourselves!).
Kindle (www.amazon.com): An electronic reader that makes it easy to download books wirelessly and read anywhere (you can store 300 books on a Kindle without a memory card and can add memory cards as necessary). Academic material is becoming increasingly more available on the Kindle and you can access a variety of published information (like the New York Times) at the touch of a button. Plus, there are notes and bookmark features, which allow you to mark up the book you are reading. Rumors tell us that textbooks may be on the Kindle soon.