by Anna Chang, UW Sophomore
Strong time-management skills do not always come naturally, but anyone can build this habit. Time-management can be especially handy for college students for both overall health performance, and given all the responsibilities and classes we take on, we can experiment and understand what our work-life balance should be. After all, poor time-management correlates and stacks up as major mental health concerns, such as increased stress, sleep problems, negative changes in attitude and burnout (Wang & Wang, 2018). Despite being widespread, poor time-management can be worked on and does not remain “the way it is” with some efforts (Inglis, 2020). Getting overwhelmed with assignments and the craziness going in your own college life? Here, we provided some pointers that may be helpful for you:
1. Have a clear understanding of what tasks and responsibilities might be coming up
This can be achieved through maintaining a calendar, a to-do list, notes on your phone, etc. Whatever this format might be, this should be both accessible and easily understood for yourself, and whenever you want to be reminded of what needs to be done, you can refer back to this source.
2. Evaluate your tasks by priority
Tasks, assignments, and responsibilities vary greatly in duration, urgency, and deadlines. Understanding the importance of your tasks you is essential to achieving your expected performance. I personally like to use the 4 Ds of time-management in a written log: delete, delegate, defer, and do. In my log, I determine what is important, what could enhance performance, what to avoid, and what to eliminate.
Do : What must be done at the moment
Defer: What must be done soon but can wait after “do”
Delegate: Someone else can do this (reaching out for support whether that might be an advisor, TA, professor, friend, etc can be helpful!)
Delete: Things do not have to be done at all. This could be unnecessary meetings or tasks that can be saved for later or disregarded completely. On a day when you’re pressed for time, be realistic with yourself.
3. Evaluate your own energy levels and emotions
Negative emotions and lack of energy can also hinder your motivation and willpower to complete tasks. Everyone copes with stress and emotions in different ways, but taking some time for your mental health (whether this might be a hobby, a physical activity, talking with therapist, or connecting with community) can help with releasing distressing emotions and re-directing your attention back to what must be finished. As for energy levels, building on a sleep routine can help you power through your daily responsibilities. You can check out our blog post here for specific suggestions: https://aamhuw.medium.com/how-to-finally-tackle-the-problem-of-sleep-as-a-college-student-28a8daf3b5c7
4. DO NOT be afraid to take time aside for planning
I want to highlight this because making an effort to plan helps to increase the chances of your desired performance. More time can potentially be saved compared to embarking on a task that took longer than you expected. I do recognize that some people prefer structure within their lives and others do not, but the planning process can be adjusted in anyway you prefer that can help you efficiently manage time. Figure out what helps with you to lay that groundwork for planning, and if something does not work out the first time, switch to a different strategy! There is always a good one for you. Perseverance and patience holds the keys to building a new habit.
- Wang, P., & Wang, X. (2018). Effect of Time Management Training on Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep Quality. Iranian journal of public health, 47(12), 1822–1831.