Living in the 21st century opens up (almost) endless possibilities. To work, study, travel, socialize… and procrastinate in the meantime. Our generation can enjoy a huge amount of leisure time thanks to labour-saving devices like dishwashers. (True story!) And yet, not everybody is able to manage this ‘free’ time, not everybody can live his/her life to the full and stay productive. What has happened to us?
Television happened. Addictive on-line gaming happened. Clubs and leisure parks happened. Advertising and colourful distractions happened. As a consequence, we find ourselves clueless as to how to fit work, studying (optional), social life and sleep into the 24 hour-day. We end up stressed, complaining about how much snowed under we are, frustrated and unhappy – although having all that fancy stuff we see on TV which “guarantees” being “cool and happy”.
The thing we need to learn is effective time management. Checking Facebook cannot take more than ten minutes (the “fun” is actually to be found here), complaining about a boss should be kept to minimum anyway (to be quite honest, nobody cares that your boss thinks you shirk your work – (s)he might actually be right), and not sleeping is not an option (yes, not even for IB students).
Fortunately, there is an easy way out of this modern hysteria. Being organized is not a matter of talent, but rather a matter of determination and self-discipline. Let’s have a look at 10 “golden” rules for managing your time effectively.
1. Keep a diary/an organizer. It can be a Google calendar, an easy organizer on your mobile phone or even the old-fashioned (?) paper diary. Keep track of things you need to do (and when is the deadline). You are never going to forget an important meeting again!
2. Plan. The usual deadlines do not work – make your own deadlines (and make sure that they fly by before the actual deadlines). This will urge you to do work sooner than the evening before THE deadline which means that a) you will have some time to check your work and b) if something unexpected goes wrong, you do not have to come up with an excuse because there will be some extra time to do the given assignment.
3. Prioritize. You cannot reasonably do EVERYTHING and do it NOW. If one project is due later than another, it is not a priority at the moment. Especially when a nervous boss/teacher expected you to hand something else in more a week ago.
4. Focus. E.g. – one thing at a time. Do not expect that you will be able to multitask all day long. Do not reply to e-mails while calling a customer while signing a form while planning your dinner. Not only that you will probably forget a vital part of the recipe and your evening with your significant other will be a culinary disaster, but your work productivity suffers as well.
5. Take regular breaks. If you work for 12 hours straight, that’s workaholism. (Get help.)
6. Delegate responsibilities. You are not a super(wo)man, deal with it. You cannot answer 100 e-mails, write a 30-page report on a new product and attend an international conference in one day (and remain sane). And an insane worker is not particularly productive.
7. Ask for help early enough. If you are failing behind, do not pretend the problem does not exist. There is probably someone who can offer a helping hand.
8. Tick “done”. Not only that it makes you feel good when you see your everyday progress, but it also makes it easier to follow what remains to be done.
9. All work and no play make you a dull… Which is not to say you should get wasted the night before an important meeting or exam (only college freshers do that, right?).
10. “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard´s Almanack) Seriously, get up 30 minutes earlier. You would be surprised how much extra work you will do each week.
…That wasn´t difficult, was it? Has it helped? Please comment and share your thoughts on this.