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.