As the end of the semester careens toward you, you might find it hard not to panic. How are you going to get everything done in time? What, exactly, needs doing? How are you going to do everything well? By managing your time effectively, of course.
But first, take a deep breath (or ten). Remember, worrying doesn’t change anything and certainly doesn’t help you to get things done or to do them well. What will help, however, is planning. Here’s a list of steps you can take that will lead you, in a methodical and organized manner, to your goal of completing your tasks efficiently and well.
- Make a list of what needs to be done.
- List the deadline for each of your tasks.
- Prioritize your list based on your deadlines.
- Figure out about how long you will need to complete each task, frontloading the tasks that are due the soonest. Overestimate: it is better to have too much time than too little.
- Study your calendar and block out the number hours, and times, of each day you will dedicate to completing everything. Mix it up so that you don’t burn out on any one task.
- Start filling in the blocks on your calendar with your assigned tasks, adjusting your times as needed. Be sure to dedicate time for eating, sleeping, exercising, relaxing and socializing. If you can, take at least one day off to rest your brain!
- As you complete your tasks, scratch them off your list, which will give you a sense of completion and accomplishment.
- At the end of every week, assess your progress and make any necessary changes.
Simultaneously, be sure you take care of yourself during the stressful end-of-the-semester sprint. Your ability to get things done will be severely compromised if you get sick. Here are some tips for self-care.
- Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and eleven hours for college students, but you probably know what your optimal number is: aim for it, especially when you’re under pressure.
- Eat well. Strive for balance and variety, using the USDA’s MyPlate for reference.
- Exercise, incorporating aerobic conditioning, weight training, core strengthening, and balance and flexibility training. The Mayo Clinic recommends 150 minutes of moderate or 70 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. A regular exercise plan will help you expend nervous energy, sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and will increase blood flow to your brain—which will help you cognitively.
- Relax. Your brain sometimes needs a break from all that planning, thinking and execution of tasks. Relaxing plays a vital part in overall health, boosting the immune system and helping the heart stay healthy. In addition, it can improve your memory and decision-making skills. Try meditation or, if you can’t sit still, yoga. Yoga, a kind of moving meditation, is also a good way to get in your weight training, core strengthening, and balance and flexibility training.
What are you waiting for? Start managing your time today—there’s no time like the present!