My greatest struggle is time management.
Procrastination is where I live most of the time, whether intentional or not. It just seems that no matter what, I’m always doing things at the last minute.
Because I’m raising my kids, going to school and working part time, I spend many nights completing assignments instead of sleeping. Luckily, I do my best work at night.
Still, I try to stay organized and fight my tendency to push things off.
Business professor Stephanie Goldenberg, a parent, student and full-time employee, had this advice for students who procrastinate: “In order to be better at managing your time, you have to decide it’s important.”
Goldenberg suggested that students log everything they have to do on a calendar: class and work schedules with commute times; assignments; activities and even fun.
Entrepreneurial Studies Institute Chair Carlene Cassidy recommended the book “Eat That Frog!” by Brian Tracy for students hoping to learn time management skills.
“Eat That Frog!” offers 21 strategies to end procrastination while being productive in less time.
The “80/20 rule.” Tracy said 20 percent of our effort leads to 80 percent of our progress. For example, Cassidy explained, showing up for class, engaging in the lesson, asking questions, turning in assignments and taking good notes comprise the 20 percent that leads to the 80 percent.
The “slice and dice rule.” Breaking a project or task down into smaller, manageable chunks gives you a better chance of getting it done. For example, if you have to write a research paper, plan to do one thing a day for a week until it’s finished.
That turns a big project into five small ones.
“Single-handle every task.” This rule also gives you one thing to do at a time. Tracy suggested selecting the most important task on your to-do list and focusing on it until it’s finished. Then move on to the next project—instead of trying to juggle both of them at once.
Sixth-year photography student Kathryn Ploetz, who works and is a mother, said she has a busy life.
So she organizes her tasks by importance, and then works on the most-important one every day.
When she finishes a project, she rewards herself.
Second-year web design student Adam Mineo said he tends to procrastinate, so he assigns each of his tasks a priority.
“The worst part is getting started,” he said, “but once you sit down and get it rolling, the task becomes easier.”
For those of us who really struggle with time management, here are some more tips to help you:
1. Make a plan for every day. Write to-do lists and then schedule each task to a specific time on your calendar. The more time you spend planning, the quicker your work will go.
2. Assign a priority to every item on your to-do list. Is the project urgent, important or not really important at all?
3. Pay attention to your own rhythms. Listen to your body and your mood. If you work better at night, roll with it. Do not fight against your biological clock.
4. Before you decide to blow off a deadline, think about the consequences. Will it lower your grade if you hand in a late assignment? Will your decision to miss a deadline create a hardship for someone else?
5. Reward yourself when you complete a task. Keep yourself motivated any way you can.
Christina Browning is a non-traditional student studying web design.