Benjamin Franklin once said, “You may delay but time will not.” As students, we all face a considerable demand on our very limited time. Whether it is group projects, studying or work, we are bombarded with things that need to be done. With only 24 hours in a day, how do you get to everything?
With so many things clamoring for attention, it is important to prioritize. It can be tempting to bounce between items as they each grab your attention – it’s human nature to respond to a stimulus. However, by bouncing around between items, it becomes more difficult for you to focus on finishing each task. As you add more tasks to the list, it becomes almost impossible to complete any of them. If you’ve ever experienced your computer running too slowly because you have 50 pages open in your web browser, it’s exactly the same for your brain when you have 50 things you’re bouncing between.
When you have so much to do, it is important to write it down but then get back to the first item you were working on. If you continuously bounce between items, soon you feel exhausted and still have nothing to show for it. It’s better to get each item done right away than to start and not finish multiple items.
That leads to the next point – never leave something half finished. Once you start a task, follow through to the end. You’ll find it becomes more difficult to complete a task the more times you have to return to it. When you take a break from a task, the longer you wait, the more you forget what your next step was going to be. You start thinking about something else you need to do or start adding even more to your to-do list. If you focus on completing a task, however, it’s much easier to remember what you wanted your next step to be.
The final point is to remember to not procrastinate. It’s tempting to focus on other items, or rather, focus on anything but what you need to do. We all know how clean our apartments get the week before a major exam or how many episodes of our favourite series we watch on Netflix. Often we find every possible reason or distraction in order to not do what we actually need to. This kills productivity, because not only are you avoiding what really needs to be done, you end up taking even longer to do it. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can get through those unpleasant tasks if you actually sit down and finish them right away. Waiting increases the risk you forget what needs to be done. When it comes to being a student, it’s tough to balance paying the bills, studying for classes and having fun, too. No one wants to miss out on the post-secondary experience and most of us aspire to achieving high grades in our coursework. If you want to keep your sanity, you need to build your time management skills and that includes prioritizing your tasks, never leaving things half finished and remembering to not procrastinate. If you find you’re getting stressed out dealing with all of the demands on your time, you can also access NAIT’s counselling services to help manage your stress. You can find more information about them at nait.ca/counselling.