Student Life

Mastering Time

Don’t just survive life - thrive. These 9 tips show you how.

Shreya Thalvayapati, Student Contributor

September 10, 2019

Mastering Time
Sophomore year of high school was my worst year in terms of time management. I went through dark periods of doubt and anxiety but learned through the process. The following nine tips consists of everything that I have learned about time management over the years, following them allowed me to take one step forward in mastering time.
1. Having clear goals can help you keep the motivation.
Stop doing things for the sake of doing them. Ask yourself why you are spending so much of your life doing certain things - what is it that you want to get out of those experiences? If you need more motivation to complete tasks, set your home screen on your phone or laptop to something that relates to your goal - for example, if you want to get into a prestigious university, set the campus of that said college as your screen. So, every time you login or enter the password and are about to get distracted, you will have a friendly reminder of why you are doing all of this in the first place.
2. Create daily to-do lists.
Write down absolutely everything that you need to do - assignments that you need to complete for each of your classes, deadlines that you need to meet for applications, tasks that you need to finish for your extracurriculars. When you have everything written down in an organized manner, it becomes substantially easier to prioritize what you need to do. Without knowing what is coming next, you will feel lost and have no idea what the next step should be. You can get a fancy planner with motivational quotes and stickers but if you are like me and just need a place to write everything down, investing in a plain bullet journal can’t go wrong.
3. Get rid of the distractions.
When you sit down to study and you know you are going to get distracted by your phone, just put your phone in a separate room. You can also give your phone to a parent or guardian until you have finished everything that you need to get done. If you know that you will need your laptop to work on certain things but constantly find yourself on YouTube or Netflix, install the Cold Turkey blocker. My favorite part of this extension is the timer feature that it provides. Essentially, you can block certain websites until a certain time. Once you block the website and save the timer settings, there is absolutely nothing you can do to reverse the timer. Until the timer ends, you can stay productive and not get distracted watching episodes or scrolling through feeds. The one downside that I can think of regarding the Cold Turkey blocker is that if you need to access one of those blocked resources to actually complete an assignment, you will not be able to do so. For instance, I blocked YouTube on my laptop for seven hours one day but that also meant that I could not watch any math tutorials in order to complete my summer homework. Because of this downside, I recommend that you set the timer for only a few hours at a time rather than days or weeks on end (because yes, that is also possible).
4. Start by completing the small tasks first.
If you are feeling stuck, try completing the small tasks first - this will give you momentum to continue going through and completing the rest of your tasks. For instance, say you have an essay to write, an entire chemistry packet to complete, and a simple passage to read. First choose which one of those tasks are your favorite (in other words, whichever one is the least torturous) and start with that one first. If you aren’t in the mood to do any of them but you need to get them done, evaluate which one will take the least amount of time to complete and get it done.
5. Try the Pomodoro Technique.
I can guarantee you that the Pomodoro Technique is mentioned in every single video or article on the internet that even remotely relates to time management. What I can’t guarantee is whether or not this method will actually work for you, but it is definitely worth a shot. In the Pomodoro Technique, you need to stay focused on a task for a certain amount of time and then you can take a break for a certain amount of time. For example, I usually set a timer to work for thirty minutes and take a break for 10 minutes. You simply rotate between working and taking a break until all your tasks are finished. You can change how long your work and break periods are according to your schedule.
6. Utilize every single spare minute.
Balancing challenging courses, demanding extracurriculars, and a vibrant social life can get tough If you feel like you are always running out of time, this next tip is for you: take advantage of every single spare minute. I am talking about doing some reading for history classes on the bus to school or listening to a video about electron configuration while brushing your teeth. If a teacher gives you ten minutes at the end of class to work on whatever you want, don’t take that as a signal to chat with your friends, pull out your next homework assignment and start clipping away at it.
7. Give yourself the occasional power nap.
If you feel completely brain dead and have a myriad of things left to do, put everything aside for 10 to 15 minutes and take a power nap. But if you are the kind of person who keeps snoozing after 15 minutes are up, it might be a better idea to wait until after dinner and just hit the bed early.
8. Sleep early, wake early.
I know not everyone is a morning person - but sometimes it’s a great idea to sleep early and wake up early to get work done. If you are like me, my productivity slowly decreases as the night drags on. Rather than torturing yourself to get through another page of reading or completing one more math problem, do yourself a favor and just go to bed. Wake up an hour or two earlier and finish your work then - you will be more far more energized and rejuvenated than the night before.
9. Take care of yourself.
One of the main reasons that people often feel stuck and fatigue is because they are doing themselves a disservice. Stay hydrated (during all parts of the year not just summer). Balance your diet. Exercise. And this one especially applies to high school students - get rest. Don’t feel bad about spending some quality time with your friends to just unwind. Improving your time management skills can help you lead a more productive and fulfilled life. Take things one step at a time and ensure that you are doing work that makes you happy.

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