While we all have 24 hours in a day, some people seem to be able to achieve more in a single day than another would in a week. Time management is the process of actively planning and using your time efficiently to get your activities done. This is a skill that will benefit you throughout your life, not just in education and career but in everyday activities as well.
Why does it help?
- Get things done quicker. If you have a set of goals and manage your time well, you reduce the chance of procrastination and tasks will take less time.
- Higher productivity. If you plan out your tasks, there is a higher chance you will get more of those things done.
- Less stress and worry. It is easy to get stressed when the tasks seem insurmountable, managing your time better will reduce that overwhelming feeling with a clear goal.
When you have several activities to get done in a day, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are some steps you can use to plan out your activities.
- Make a list
- Making a physical list will help you see the things that you need to get done and help declutter your mind. When you finish a task, cross or check it off; it feels good to have something done.
- With your list before you, it will be easier to prioritize what needs to get done first. Rate or rank your activities based on importance or deadline so you can see what you need to focus on first and what you can leave until tomorrow if necessary.
- Break bigger tasks into smaller ones
- If you have a task that involves several steps or will last several days, break it into smaller, achievable chunks.
- Time out activities
- Give yourself timelines to get things done. Allocate a specific time to the activity, for example: study assurance from 9:30-11:00 am, and stick to it. Remember to schedule yourself breaks, too.
- Reward yourself
- When you check off an activity on your list—especially one that is more involved or , do something nice during your break that you will look forward to, like making a cup of tea, that will make you more productive.
Below is a list of activities. What would you do first? Our suggestions for how to prioritize them follow.
- There is an assignment due tomorrow
- The dishes need to be washed
- You have an exam in two weeks
- You need a new hat for winter
- You must go pick up your child’s cold prescription before 4pm
- There is a sale at your favourite shoe store today
The assignment would be a high priority item as it is due tomorrow. Make this either the first or second priority and if possible, schedule it earlier in your day.
The dishes are important but can wait, or better yet, be delegated to someone else if your situation allows.
Exam preparation is high priority. This should be high on your list, but not necessarily the first item on it. It may be tempting to push this to the bottom of your list, but starting your exam preparation early will help you feel better prepared on exam day.
Needing a new hat is a lower priority. During one of your breaks, see if you can find something online that will ship to you. Online shopping can be helpful when you are too busy to go to the store.
The prescription is important because it has the earliest and most specific due date for the day. Getting to the pharmacy will have to be scheduled before 4pm, likely well before just in case something unplanned happens. This is an item you may also be able to delegate if your situation allows.
Unless you have no shoes, schedule getting to the sale as an “if you have extra time” activity or plan some online shopping during a break.
Occasionally, CPA Canada offers online courses and webinars to aid in planning and time management.