What’s so important about time management anyway?

Beginning October 11, CEHD’s Student Success Team will be offering a 4-week on-demand Academic Success Toolkit on the topic of Time Management. Check your Mason email every Sunday for links to the latest Toolkit installment in The 2200 student news digest.  Today we wanted to share an excerpt from the first installment:

Time management is the way in which you organize your time spent on tasks set forth for each week, day, or hour.  Time management can either make or break your experience on anything in life, from getting ready and getting to dinner with your friends to completing a mid-term assignment.  What you do with your time minute-to-minute may seem small, but when we magnify those minutes into hours, and hours into days, the management of that time becomes your life.  It is likely you have already implemented a time management toolkit into your lifestyle, but let’s take an inventory of those skills to build them, strengthen them, and continue to evolve them.

Time management is a skill that will always be shifting.  The time you have to manage changes with each phase of life and how you do so will change in accordance to your new goals.  Where your time is being spent should be reflective of where you want to go next.  Thus, as a graduate student, new or returning, the way you manage your time this year will be different from the last.  This is why it is important to know how to assess your management skills and make them fit for you.  

Before managing time, you need to manage your supporting skills.  Do you know what is ahead of you?  Without the organizational skills to be aware of your expectations, there is nothing to manage except free time.  Not only should you be organizing your thoughts, but also your priorities.  The prioritization of tasks will lead you to manage your time most effectively and allow structure even on your most time-crunched days. Consider balancing responsibilities as an essential time management tool for your schedule and your wellbeing.  Remember, “no” is a one-word sentence.  Unexpected requirements will rear their ugly heads, but knowing where and when to opt-out can help you organize, prioritize, and manage your time.    

Lastly, your personal preferences are a key player in your time management toolkit.  Maybe you are a list person.  Maybe you keep everything in your smartphone.  What about a planner!?  The important thing is that you know what works for you on day one, and also what is still working for you on day 152 of the semester.  Time management is not a one-size-fits-all set of tools, but a customizable toolkit put together with an assortment of skills and concepts.   

Successful time management will look and feel productive, will harness just the right amount of stress to ignite motivation, and will likely result in a formed routine.  However, be aware that being busy does not always imply productivity.  Be sure that your managed time is distraction-free and that your free time, while still managed, doesn’t bleed into your production hours.  Take inventory of your time to know where you are spending it and what your hours look like.  Use this Time Management Toolkit to get a grasp of where you are, where you are going, and exactly how you want to get there.  The foundational skills ahead of you will help you move forward successfully in your personal life, in CEHD, and moving forward.


Technology Tips for a Successful Semester

The last thing you need when you sit down to take a test on Blackboard is having to also learn how to take the test.  This applies to all Mason technology.  Familiarizing yourself with these applications now, rather than later, can help you avoid a potentially sticky situation.  Take a look at these services this week to avoid the learning curve later!


You have probably already located all of your courses on Blackboard in the last few days.  If not, don’t walk, run to!  Just like you would scout out the best seat in a classroom, be sure you spend some time in each course learning the landscape.  All courses can be different so it is important you do this for each course!  However, the grade center is always around.  Locate it! 

Some of your courses may be using the Respondus testing browser.  Be sure to check your syllabi for information regarding how your tests will be administered.  If you need to download Respondus you can do so here.

For all other Blackboard questions, start with Mason Information Technology’s Knowledge Base here.

Patriot Web

This is where you registered for your fall courses, but Patriot Web does so much more!  Start looking around in the “Student Services” tab. 

  • Registration – You may be familiar with this already, but be sure to take a peek in case you need to drop a class before the drop deadline. Visit the fall 2020 calendar for more drop information. 
  • Student Records – Degree Works will show you the outline of your required courses including what you’ve completed, are completing, and what’s left. Stay on track by checking Degree Works and meeting with your Academic Advisor regularly. 
  • Student Account – Account Information can also be found in Patriot Web including your Financial Aid records, your charges and payments, and tax information. Start out on a good foot and make sure you don’t currently have any holds on your account here as well.

Need some help navigating through Patriot Web? The friendly folks in the Registrar’s Office have put together some great Patriot Web tutorials here.

Mason Email

This is where you will receive all Mason communications.  In fact, any correspondence about your academics at Mason will need to come through your (or account so we can ensure it’s you! 

  • Try adding a signature line to your account. Don’t make faculty and staff guess who you are! 
  • Considering adding your Mason email to your smart device for easy access. Check out the steps for adding your Mason email to mobile devices here.
  • Check your Mason email every day, even if it’s just a quick glance in the morning. Be sure to stay on the lookout for SAA’s The 2200 every Sunday!

Pro Tips:

Consider what’s in your background when you are participating in virtual classes or recording yourself.  While we love to get to know more about our students, we don’t want to know everything.  Zoom allows you to change your background if you didn’t have time to clean before class started!  Find out how to use Zoom backgrounds here.

Check out these Mason Zoom backgrounds for your next advising meeting! 

Go ahead a bookmark each of these technology services.  You’ll need them often!  You can also download the Blackboard app for checking grades or quick check-ins. 


The Playlist for Success

As I sit in the spare bedroom of my townhome, the sound of AC/DC fills my house.

Am I listening to AC/DC while trying to work from home?


Is rock and roll noise pollution? 

It is when you cannot control your neighbor’s playlist volume! 

The thought, “Can you at least wait until 5:00 pm!” runs through my mind. 

How can I manage to get through my to-do list when I cannot tune out of the Best of the 80’s?!

Personally, I need something to help me get back to work and quickly!  Here are some tips I like to use. Try them to keep your distractions at bay:

Grab the headphones 

Classical music is a great way to mask other noises while continuing to be productive, or to give your workspace a lively feeling.  Check out this CEHD Concentration Station playlist!

25 minutes on, 5 minutes off

Like our bodies, our brains need breaks to function best!  Check out this Pomodoro Playlist that is designed for 25 minutes of music that promotes focus followed by five minutes of fun for a break!  

Throw the phone away

After you have your playlist going toss your phone to the other side of the room!  When one thing disrupts us, we are likely to allow that to take us down a rabbit hole of distractions.

Celebrate what you have accomplished

When you have that Friday feeling celebrate another week well-done with CEHD’s Mood Booster playlist!     

Remember to have some grace with yourself and others during this time.  You are not just studying at home, you are at home trying to study during a health crisis.  Try to set yourself up to block out those sometimes-unavoidable distractions.  When it seems like too much, reach out to the Student and Academic Affairs Office.  We can help you find the right tracks to keep you on beat!

All playlists created on Spotify by the CEHD Student Enrichment Coordinator, Brianna Alford, and our star intern Brooke. For some reason, no AC/DC was included.

Spotify is a free service in no way affiliated with or endorsed by George Mason University or CEHD.


Work space not working?

If you are feeling like getting set up each day is taking as much time as the morning rush hour commute to campus, try these steps to find your best work space fit!

Much like the fluid situation we find ourselves in due to COVID-19 updates, your working space may be ever-changing as well.  As humans, we all have our preferences as to where and how we like to work.  If you are feeling like getting set up each day is taking as much time as the morning rush hour commute to campus, try these steps to find your best work space fit!


Grab your tools

What are the things you would never go to class without?  Those are the things you will need for your remote learning work space.  A computer, paper, pens/pencils should be the staples. If you’re like me, you need a little room to stretch out as well.

Stake out your space

What kind of environment do you need to be productive?  Think about the things that typically distract you and work from there to pinpoint a workspace where those distractions can be eliminated. 

Photo collage of three work from home desks

No desk?  No problem!

Get creative!  Throw a table cloth over a card table for an instant new desk!  Kitchen tables can work just as well.  Pull out a nightstand for some additional space or storage.  Just be sure you are staying organized!

Don’t get too comfy

Dedicate your work space for work and your sleep space for sleep.  However, consider bringing a pillow for a chair that may be less than ideal.  The key is to find a comfort level that will keep you alert but comfortable enough to watch an hour video lecture.   

Make it yours

Add a candle, a plant, or a picture of your friends that you are not getting much facetime with.  Create your work space to be a place you want to go!

The workspaces in this article belong to the members of CEHD’s Student Success Team. Think you have a great set up?  Share it with CEHD_SAA on Instagram with the hashtag #CEHDWorksFromHome.  Be sure to check in next week for more steps to take on the road to academic success!


Procrastination, Motivation, and Avoiding Distractions

Try the 5-steps below in your first week of remote learning to avoid procrastination, distractions, and to stay motivated! 

Mid-semester is always a great time to check in on the goals we had set for ourselves in January when we were motivated, fresh, and ready to take on a new semester.  In the recent weeks our lives have been turned upside down and it can be difficult to feel motivated and driven in a brand-new environment at home.  Try the 5-steps below in your first week of remote learning to avoid procrastination, distractions, and to stay motivated! 

  • Have a dedicated work space– Don’t have a desk at home? Try the kitchen table!  Be sure you have a well-lit set up and a comfortable chair. 
    • Separate your academic hours from your resting hours as much as possible. Your bed is not a work space!
  • Create a distraction free environment-Turn your TV off and your brain on! Be sure to leave your phone in another room or at least on silent and face down.  If you need a little noise in the room try classical music or any music without words! 
    • Home with your family, children, or roommates? Break out the headphones!
  • 20 minutes on, 5 minutes off– It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Our brains can only handle so much at a time, and we may have other responsibilities surrounding us.  Try using a timer to work for 20 minutes and then break for 5 minutes.    
    • Children at home with you? Let the timer become a part of a game!  Try a 5-minute family dance party for a break. 
  • Dress for success– What are you going to wear to the living room today? Be sure you are getting up, getting ready, and heading to your work space.  Last nights pajamas will leave you feeling tired and unmotivated. 
  • Find your procrastination stations– Where do you go (physically or virtually) when you find yourself drifting? Usually, I find myself at the refrigerator!  This is when I know I need more than a 5-minute break. Try to take a walk, head into a different room, or just stand and stretch for a bit. 

Ask for help!  If you feel you are struggling with finding the best environment for you reach out to your support systems like the College’s Student Academic Success Coordinator, Stormi Woltz!

Yours from afar,

Stormi Woltz