So, are you an Early Bird, Multitasker, Helper, or Deliberator? In last week’s post, we showed you how to identify your personal time management style—the first step in making more time and less stress for family, friends, and school. Today, we’re going to show you how to apply that knowledge in a Five-Step Time Management Plan you can customize to fit your unique style.
Your Five-Step Time Management Plan
- Analyze how you’re currently spending your time. Have you heard the saying “You can’t control what you can’t measure”? Well, that’s especially true of time. So, for just two school days, track how you spend every hour of the day. Be thorough and honest! Include eating, sleeping, studying, LiveLesson® sessions, spending time on social media, playing video games or sports, and watching TV. As an enrolled student, you can use our activity tracker(opens in a new tab) to log your time for reading assignments, music practice, and physical activities. If you want to track everything in one place, use our downloadable time tracking sheet template(opens in a new tab) in PDF format.
- Create a priority list that includes everything you need to do today, including any social or family commitments. Group the items based on whether they’re onetime, daily, or recurring tasks. Don’t worry about the order; we’ll get to that in the next step.Now, rank each of the items on your to-do list as A, B, or C, based on their importance:
- A = Important and urgent
- B = Important, but not urgent
- C = Not important and not urgent
For example, let’s assume that your SAT or ACT test is two months away; your history paper is due tomorrow; your best friend is counting on you to attend her recital; and you can’t afford to fall behind on reading assignments. Your final prioritized to-do list for today might look like this:
- Daily tasks
- A. Read class assignments
- A. Walk the dog
- B. Phone or text friends
- Recurring (but not daily) tasks
- A. Attend a LiveLesson
- B. Study for SATs
- C. Get a haircut
- Onetime task
- A. Attend a friend’s music recital
- A. Finish history paper, which is due tomorrow
Of course, circumstances and priorities change from day to day. While studying for the SATs and ACTs may be a B today, it’s likely to become an A the week before the test.
- Enter your to-do list items in your preferred calendar planner, estimating and blocking out a time slot for each item. Enter all the recurring items first. For example, if Mondays from 9 to 10 are reserved for LiveLesson sessions or soccer practice, you’ll want to know that slot is unavailable for other tasks. Enter all your A high-priority items first, followed by the B’s and then the C’s.
Your planner for the week may look like this:
- Make adjustments in your planner based on your current time management habits. If you need to, review your time management personality type again.
- If you’re a Multitasker who usually underestimates how long a task takes, then increase the time you’ve allotted for each task. The time log you kept will give you an idea of how much extra time to allow, but start with at least fifteen extra minutes to be on the safe side.
- If you’re a Helper who tends to fall behind because you’re assisting others, build more lead-time into every project. You might also want to consider dedicating a specific time slot for maintaining friendships, such as setting aside an hour a week to Skype with friends and catch up.
- If you’re a Deliberator who excels at breaking large projects into individual tasks, incorporate that approach into your planner. Get as detailed as you like so you’re in even more control and getting the satisfaction of checking off all those tasks one by one.
- If you’re an Early Bird who likes to focus on one project at a time, make the most of that focus by scheduling project tasks at the time that’s best for you. That is, if you’re most alert in the morning but you drag in the afternoons, schedule your high-priority A tasks in the morning and save your B’s and C’s for the afternoon.
- Do, review, and repeat daily. As you go through your day, tackle tasks based on how you’ve organized your A, B, and C priorities in your planner. Check off your completed tasks. Copy uncompleted tasks to tomorrow’s to-do list and start the whole process over from Step 2.
As you practice these steps over time, you’ll learn a lot—both about yourself and managing time. So, give them a try for a week and then come back and tell us what you’ve discovered.