Tuesday, October 18, 2011

All you need is....

By Audrey Treece

All you need is love, right?

I live a double life. From 8 AM on Monday until 5 PM on Friday, I am a student. From 5 PM on Friday until 8 AM on Monday, I am a wife. I have trained myself to get all of my work done during the week and can honestly say that in the last five years I can count on one hand the amount of weekends that I actually had to do school work. With that in mind, you probably think that I undercut my school work or have deprived myself of extracurricular activities to accomplish this life style. The truth is, however, I completed two degrees simultaneously, was the leader of the American Institute of Architecture Students for three years, worked two jobs, planned a wedding and maintained a 3.6 GPA. Again, I managed all of these things while never having to do school work on the weekends. What’s my secret? Easy peasy, as Professor Dobbins would say, it is called time management!

Time management is an essential skill that helps you keep your work under control, at the same time that it helps you keep stress to a minimum. Don’t let me fool you, I am constantly stressed out and often think that it will be impossible to finish all of the work that is required. Sure, we would all love to have an extra couple of hours in every day. Seeing as that is impossible, you need to work smarter on things that have the highest priority, and then creating a schedule that reflects your work and personal priorities. With this in place, you can work in a focused and effective way, and really start achieving those goals, dreams and ambitions that you have.
I am going to give you a few of my secrets to hopefully help give your time management a pick-me-up.

1. Set Goals
Setting goals requires time and effort and often gets ignored. If you take the little amount of time to set goals then in the end you will save an enormous amount of time and frustration knowing where you are going and what exactly needs done in what order which leads me to the next thing…

2. Prioritization
Not to be confused with a To Do list, which is actually secret number three, prioritizing your goals is especially important. I always try to work on the most important or highest priority tasks first. Otherwise, you may be working very diligently on a specific goal that needs finished, however, if you don’t complete things that are more pressing you will end up scrambling to get something else done that has an earlier deadline. This will lead to poor work quality and extremely high stress levels.

3. To Do Lists
As promised in number two, my third little secret is creating To Do lists. Again, not to get confused with prioritizing, to do lists are especially helpful in compiling a list to know what needs to be completed and scheduling your time effectively. I create about three different lists a day. I know it sounds like a lot of wasted time, but I am constantly reminding myself of my goals and deadlines. On top of my lists, I always estimate the time that it will take to be able to cross it off the list. I also include interruptions such as time to eat, time spent in class and even time to take care of personal things such as phone conversations with my husband. There is nothing that feels better than crossing things off the list.

4. Procrastination
Procrastination is my worst enemy. It is as tempting as it is deadly. The best way to overcome procrastination is to admit you do it. Once you admit that you have the problem, you can start to overcome it. Figure out why you are or what is making you procrastinate and remind yourself of the consequences in the end. Don’t be scared to reward yourself for completing your jobs. It may sound stupid, but my reward is being able to cross something off of my obsessive amount of To Do lists. I love an empty list!

5. Manage Interruptions
The fifth and final secret is to manage your interruptions. Interruption is a natural part of life. Whether it is a phone call, email or unexpected project deadline, interruptions are going to happen. No matter how much I plan or prioritize, I inevitably come across something that changes the game (hence why I make three To Do lists a day). The only thing I can say about managing interruptions is to take care of the things that need immediate attention, otherwise, manage them appropriately. Don’t be scared to adapt and remember that your To Do list can always be modified.

These five things are the best way that I can sum up my secrets to what I think is successful time management. There is always opportunity to improve these skills and doing so will increase your effectiveness of work and success.

All you need is….time management.

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