Learn to manage your time and the world is in your hands
Creativity is a great talent. And certainly the world needs a lot of creative minds to develop the technology and to work to solve the very big issues that face us. But there is another skill that must go along with creativity, and that is productivity. All of the best ideas are nothing without productivity that will turn them into reality. And the biggest element of productivity? Time management. Skill sets will change over time, but if students learn nothing else in college, it must be time management. This is a skill that will last a lifetime, no matter what else must be learned.
A New Workplace
Today’s college graduate will enter a workplace very different from his/her parents. The new workplace will not demand a 9-5 workday at the office. It will demand that employees work when and where and how they need to compete projects and meet deadlines – many of them remotely from locations all around the world.
The other big change is that rather than become employees, many entering the workforce will be self-employed, as contractors and freelancers, selling themselves and their skills sets to many different organizations. This independence of work life will require time management like never before. An entrepreneur cannot be successful, cannot promote his brand and market himself without managing his/her time effectively.
Tips for Time Management
Whether you are in school or in your first career position, here are some basic tips that will help you master time management. Committing to these will not have you wondering at the end of the day where all of your time went.
- Restrict your Internet time on news, social media and email communication. Set aside a specific time of the day when you allow yourself to do these things, and stick to the limit you have set. Even if those emails are from important people in your life, you only have a certain amount of time to read and respond. First thing in the morning or late in the evening usually works well. And tell your email list the times that you will be doing this, so they know when to expect an answer.
- Set work hours for yourself just as if you were in an office. They can be broken up, yes, but you need to set aside a good 6-7 hours a day for actual productive work. And no personal phone calls or interruptions while you are working. If you are a student, you have classes to attend and assignments to complete. Set up blocks of time for study, activities and social time. If you get into that habit now, you will thank yourself later on.
- Learn to say “No.” Friends need favors; they interrupt you with requests for help. And friendships are important to you. But if you begin to learn to say “no” now, even on just a few occasions, you will find it easier to do in the future. And you don’t have to be a jerk about it. If you are in the middle of “work time,” let your friend know when you will be available to help.
- Your “To-Do” lists are all important. Either before you go to sleep at night or first thing in the morning you need to plan each day. You do this with a calendar and your own understanding of your priorities for the day. If, for example, you have a research paper due, and you are behind, then that is a big priority for today. Put it on your to-do list up toward the top. It has to get done. And if you have prioritized well, you do not move to #2 until #1 is accomplished.
Good habit of time management mean that you will enter the work force prepared. You’ll be able to budget your time well, focus on the tasks at hand, and, if you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur, you will get a brand reputation for productivity – a big plus!