The purpose of this lesson is to help you build your skills around effective time management by introducing new tools or techniques you can try for yourself. One of the most valuable skills you can have as an online student—and in the future as a remote worker—is effective time management. The better you manage your time, the easier it is to achieve your goals. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, meaning it’s not about how much time you have, but how well you can manage it.
Why are techniques for effective time management important?
Time management techniques are especially important for online students, who are often taking care of family, or juggling other commitments. Without the help of a class to motivate you or having a set time where you need to be in a physical classroom, effective time management is crucial to helping you stay focused.
Techniques for Effective time management:
Effective time management not only helps with your learning but can also make you more productive at work and in your personal life. If you’re serious about successfully completing your online program, it’s crucial to find a good system to use.
While learning online can have its challenges, time management skills for students are increasingly important. Also, in today’s professional world, the realities of participation require employees to have efficiency and productivity skills.
6 Time Management Strategies:
Below are six time management strategies to help you stay ahead of your daily work.
Block out distractions using the Pomodoro Method:
t’s easy to become distracted by the news or your favorite blog. If you’re struggling to stay focused, then consider the Pomodoro Method. This technique helps with productivity by arranging how you work to increase efficiency. The tool builds on 25-minute work sessions, optimizing your time to focus on your online studies and work. The best way to use this method is to:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work uninterrupted for the scheduled period.
- Take a five-minute break to grab a drink/snack, check emails, or do something else.
- Once you’ve completed four work sessions, treat yourself to a longer, 15-minute break.
Actively use your Google calendar to plan ahead:
A full schedule, combined with daily distractions, can easily get in the way of finishing tasks. Setting aside time to focus is indeed helpful.
Despite the flexibility in being an online student or remote professional, it’s important to have an overview of expected tasks and study/work materials to engage with over the week.
Consider purchasing a calendar or use your Google calendar to plan your daily and weekly assignments, highlighting:
- Assignments due, including drafts and final submissions
- Activities related to your program, collaborative or morning sessions
- Virtual office hours with Career Services
Create and use To-Do lists:
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vast quantity of tasks that we must do from day-to-day. One of the most important reasons for keeping a to-do list is the organization. Organizing your tasks with a list can make everything much more manageable and make you feel grounded. Seeing a clear outline of your completed and uncompleted tasks will help you feel organized and stay mentally focused. To-do lists are useful for when you’re feeling likely to forget. As long as you can remember to look at your to-do list, you will not lose the information you may forget. You can create To-Do lists on your notepad as a physical copy while using a pen or pencil to cross off completed tasks. You can also keep a To-Do list digitally by creating a checklist of tasks on your device. Another option is to use a To-Do list app to set due dates and set reminders when you are behind on your schedule.
Use time blocking:
If you’ve ever struggled with time management and done some research online, you may have heard of time blocking. Time blocking is a simple strategy: rather than creating “to-do” lists and checking things off, you’ll instead “block” specific timeframes on your calendar for specific tasks. Then you stick to those time blocks, even if it means having to pause a task before you’re done to move on to the next event.
It’s important to reward yourself after a job well done to improve concentration, avoid burnout, and motivate yourself towards the next task. Otherwise, it won’t be easy to concentrate on even the simplest tasks. When you set SMART goals and reward yourself for accomplishing them, your motivation and engagement with your work get better, leading to improved outcomes and performance. Rewards also help you to refuel healthily while maintaining a balance between work and play. When you refuel, you are more mentally prepared to take on the next challenge.
You can reward yourself by celebrating your accomplishments and treating yourself to something you truly enjoy, whether that’s watching your favorite TV show, spending time with loved ones, or going out to a nice dinner and a movie. If you’ve just completed a capstone project, do something you enjoy over the weekend as a reward.
Prioritize using the 4-quadrant model:
There are many time management techniques, and the 4-quadrant model is one of them. This technique is an effective method meant to focus your attention on the tasks that matter most according to your daily and weekly plan.
Created by Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this model uses a four-quadrant system to help you categorize each task from your planned week based on:
- Urgency: Tasks and responsibilities requiring immediate action or attention
- Importance: Those with high significance or value to goals
The objective of using this method is to focus on managing your time effectively across the different tasks you have by categorizing them according to relevance and urgency. This time management technique improves your productivity and accomplishments of your SMART goals.
Each quadrant has a different property and is designed to help you prioritize your tasks and responsibilities. These quadrants are as follows:
- Quadrant 1: Urgent and important
- Quadrant 2: Not urgent but important
- Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important
- Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important