Time Management: Part I

168 hours. 168 hours is the total if you add up every second, minute, and hour in a 7 day week. At first glance, 168 hours may not seem like that much time, but when you start to break it down you walk away with a better understanding of just how much time 168 hours is, and how much efficiency and productivity you can cram into that time. First off, if you haven’t yet seen Laura Vanderkam’s TED talk on this topic, I highly recommend that you do so now. She does a great job of really driving home this point.

Lets start to break down those 168 hours that make up each week.

·       You start the week with 168 hours

o   Work + Commute (50 hours)

o   Sleep (56 hours)

·       That leaves you with 62 hours per week to do the things that you want to, need to, or are forced to do

The most important decision you have is: what are you going to do with the remaining time you have each week? The first step is to make sure you understand what your priorities are, and what are not priorities. Spending time with my wife and son each day is a priority for me, and I will always make time for that. If I have a paper due at the end of the week, you better believe that’s a priority for me. And don’t think I am going to miss watching my favorite TV show live each week, so I don’t have to worry about reading or hearing a spoiler. Take an inventory of how you currently spend your time each week and decide which of those things you do because they are important, a necessity, or mean something to you and which of those things you do out of habit or for no apparent reason at all. There are not enough hours in the day, or in the week for that matter, which means you have to MAKE the time for the things that matter because you wont ever be able to find enough time. Remember, that saying that “you don’t have time” for something just means that thing is not a priority to you. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. “I don’t have time” means that you are someone who clearly knows what is important to them, and what they have to do.

In 1955 Cyril Northcote Parkinson wisely wrote “that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” What this means is that if you have 3 months to write a paper, you better believe it is going to take you 3 months to write that paper. But if that same paper only had a deadline of one week, you’ll have it done in 6.95 days. It is very easy to fall into the trappings of long lead times for due dates or even worse, self-imposed deadlines and keep pushing off getting the actual work done. The first and best thing you can do when you are about to start a paper, project, or studying for a big test is to set the timelines with specific goals. The next most important thing you have to do is, is stick to it. If you are looking to accomplish something over the length of a semester, get out a calendar and break the semester down into smaller, more manageable weeks. Each week should have its own set of goals and things that you want to get done. This goals need to be realistic and manageable, you want to be able to achieve  what you have set for yourself. If you work full-time and pick up extra shifts, have a family at home, and are in school, your weeks are going to look much different than someone who only does one of those things. Thus you will have to be more diligent with how you allocate your time, and more realistic with your goals.  Busy weeks with family and work means there is less time to do the other items on your to-do list. That’s life. I think that when you are creating a self-imposed deadline for a project or studying for a big test (i.e. Registry) you have to take your own mental well-being into account. Build weeks into your schedule where you have a lower load of work to do, or weeks off completely. Burnout is real, and if you go 110mph all the time you are going to run out of gas quickly…

Stick around for Time Management Part II!