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In my years as a Time Management speaker and consultant, college professor, and father of four grown kids, I have observed a lot of what students can and should not do to increase their daily results. Time management is not necessarily working "harder", but rather, "smarter".
And to accomplish significantly more in our school days, we need not increase our efforts. As an example, in a horserace, the first horse may earn a $50,000 purse and the second horse may earn a $25,000 purse. The first horse gets twice as much money as the second horse, not because it ran twice as far or twice as fast. It was only a "nose ahead" of the competition.
So it is with our daily school work. We need not run twice as fast or put in twice the effort to significantly increase our daily success. We only need to be a "nose ahead" of where we already are. Students are productive in their days. They would not survive the demands of the academic world if they were not. The real challenge is how much more productive and successful can they become?
A lot of our Time Management has more to do with what we are not doing rather than what we are doing. Sometimes our mistakes and omissions will keep us from running at a full pace.
Here are the "Four Time Management Don'ts for Students" to avoid to help increase success at school and at home, in less time and with less stress.
1. Start your day without a plan of action. You will begin your day by responding to the loudest voice (the squeaky wheel gets the grease) and spend it in a defensive mode, responding to other people's and events' demands. The tail will wag the dog. If there is a void of leadership in your time management life, someone will fill that void, not that others are bad people, but others will take all of your time if you let them. You will have worked hard but may not have done enough of right things. Time Management is not doing the wrong things quicker. That just gets us nowhere faster. Time Management is doing the right things.
2. Get out of balance in your life. Our lives are made up of Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. We will not necessarily spend time every day in each area or equal amounts of time in each area. But if in the long run, we spend a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, our lives will be in balance. But if we neglect any one area, never mind two or three, we will eventually sabotage our success. Much like a table, if one leg is longer than the rest, it will make the entire table wobbly. If we don't take time for health, our family life and social life are hurt. If our financial area is out of balance, we will not be able to focus adequately on our intellectual goals, etc.
3. Work with a messy study area. Studies have shown that the student who works with a messy study area spends, on average, one hour per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That's seven hours per week. ("Out of sight-out of mind." And the reverse of that is true too, "In sight, in mind"). And, it's not a solid block of an hour, but a minute here and a minute there, and like a leaky hot water faucet, drip, drip, drip, it doesn't seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we're dumping gallons of hot water down the drain that we are paying to heat. If you have ever visited the office of a top manager, typically, that person is working with a clean desk environment. Many would attribute this practice to that person's access to other staff members. While there may be some truth in that conclusion, in most cases, if we went back some years in that person's career, they probably were working with a clean desk back then which gave them the focus they needed to become promoted to where they are today.
4. Don't get enough sleep. Studies show that nearly 75% of students complain on a regular basis, all throughout our days, that they are flat-out tired. (Ever see a student nodding off in class?) For most, they get the quantity of sleep, but they lack the quality of sleep. Their days are filled with so much stress, they are out of control, working harder but maybe not smarter, that it's difficult to get a full night's sleep. (For some, they simply do not allow for a sufficient quantity of sleep.) Plan and take time for a sufficient quantity of sleep. And, if you will plan your day, then work your plan, you will get more done, feel a higher sense of accomplishment, greater self-esteem, and experience less stress and enjoy a more restful night's sleep.
Don Wetmore, a college professor and an attorney, is president of The Productivity Institute, ( www.balancetime.com ) and has been in the field of Time Management / Personal Productivity for over twenty years. Reach Don Wetmore by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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