The longer I hold my position as a resident assistant, the more I learn about time management. Although I am only in my first year as a resident assistant at Central Michigan University, I feel that it is in this first year that you bring home the largest amount of “lessons learned.” One of these lessons is a great one in time management.
In the beginning I was the queen of “do everything.” I juggled my job as an RA, my schoolwork, extra organizations, family, and friends. After a month of juggling, I was unhappy and I was realizing that being SUPERWOMAN was not all it was cut out to be. From that point on I realized that there are key techniques I can use in my everyday life that will be highly beneficial to not only having good time management skills but also to keep me from going insane. There are five main topics that I feel are crucial in good time management. I am not claiming to know it all on this subject, but I speak genuinely and I speak from experience.
Five time management techniques:
1. What is the most important thing? I would come home from class with a brain full of things that I had to get done. I would then begin working on something that had a deadline a week away, putting off my homework that was due the next day. Or I would agree to go bowling with a friend when I had homework sitting on my desk staring me in the face. I soon realized that I needed to prioritize my “to do” list. What was the difference between me doing homework at 6 pm and bowling at 9 pm, instead of vice versa? The only difference was the “fun” thing would have to wait. Deciding what is most important is a great way to get started on a “to do” list.
2. Multi-tasking is a special gift – Not everyone is able to multi-task. If you have that ability I highly suggest you try it, if you do not have that ability – then learn! Sometimes I would feel frustrated because I felt as though I never had an opportunity to watch TV but if you do organizing while sitting in front of the TV then you get the best of both worlds. At times I will look at my overflowing laundry basket and wonder when I’ll get time to do laundry with the big test I have to study for. If you put your wash in and then study while waiting for things to get clean and dry you kill two birds with one stone. There are such a variety of things that you can multi-task so just try it! It will save time!
Important! The brain is really only able to focus in on one thing at a time. If you have something really important you need to do or learn…you need to focus on it, pay attention, and don’t get distracted!
3. Do not forget that relaxing is okay – I began getting so frazzled from a hectic schedule that sometimes I think I would forget to even breath. Although, as I mentioned above, multi-tasking is good, it still does not mean that a little “me” time isn’t necessary. I came to the conclusion that if I went full speed for too long without taking a break for myself, the quality of work I was producing would be very poor. It’s okay to take a minute and watch TV without multi-tasking something during that time, or to take fifteen minutes out to read a book for pleasure.
4. Sleep is required – Do not manage your time in a way that compromises your health. Set a schedule for yourself and be strict about your bedtime. If you start to be strict then you will start to discipline yourself in getting your homework, and other work done BEFORE bedtime and then burning that midnight oil will come less and less.
5. Utilize a planning system – I would forget to brush my teeth if I did not have it in my planning system. Find something that works and use it!
If you’re like me, you are already looking at your watch wondering how much longer you have to read this article. I feel your pain. I will conclude and leave you with one thought…I once read that Helen Keller, Vincent Van Gogh, and Albert Einstein all had the same amount of time in each day that we do…and look what they accomplished. We can be just as successful as long as we use all of the advice and secrets that the kind souls of the world share with us.
Submitted by Linda Harvey, Resident Assistant, Central Michigan University