What do you think of when you hear the phrase “time management”? Do you feel stressed? Overwhelmed? For many, it’s a trigger word. Being a better time manager isn’t a cake walk, and there’s certainly no one right answer to become a better manager. We often hear tactics and tips for being a more effective organizer, but sometimes, we need to recognize that it’s okay to fall behind and then learn how to catch back up.

So let’s explore some organizational tactics, as well as some ways we can better our time management skills.

Using a Calendar Effectively

Being organized is just one step to becoming a better time manager. Organization is a skill that can help everyone keep work (and home) life flowing smoothly. Some of us are natural-born organizers, but I can say for myself I am not one of those people. Thankfully, the right organizational tools can do all the work for you.

The most obvious tool is a calendar. But how you organize your calendar is critical. That being said, it’s going to vary how you should organize your calendar. Personally, I use Google Calendar. It’s convenient because I have three Google accounts: work, school, and personal. With Google, I’m able to merge all three calendars so I have all my meetings in one place.

There are several calendar applications you can use, it simply comes down to preference, even if it’s a print calendar. I like to start by writing out all of my regular tasks on paper, such as classes, work, etc. I’ll then add in important meetings, exams, and other obligations. Lastly, I’ll add in “me” time, such as the gym, studying sessions, or just blocking off time on my calendar to relax.

Prioritize Your Daily, Weekly, & Monthly Tasks

I think most of us can agree that our goal, whether it be work, school, or just life, is to be as productive as possible. Productivity means finishing all of our tasks on our to-do list, right? Not exactly. Oftentimes, we underestimate how much time a task will take, which means we’re falling behind on other tasks with higher priority.

Before grinding out what’s next on your to-do list, examine your entire task list and create time estimates for each task. This will give you a better understanding of how long each project will take. No matter what career field you’re in, being your own project manager can save you an immense amount of time down the line.

Block Work Time

Productivity is an entirely different realm for another time. Although, it can be really hard to get work done when meetings are constantly being scheduled when you’re planning to get something done. That’s why creating working time blocks on your calendar can be a way to ensure you’re making the time to get your tasks done.

Blocking out work time is easier said than done. I find it difficult some days to find time to block time. The easiest way to block out work time is to regularly schedule work time on your calendar, ensuring meetings aren’t scheduled during that time frame.

Playing Catch-Up

Oh no, you’re overdue on a task or you forgot to turn in a homework assignment. END OF THE WORLD. This doesn’t have to be the case. The time you spend stressing about the potential repercussions is time you could be using to make things right.

The first step is recognizing when you may not meet a deadline. It’s essential to understand your capacity for a task. Once you know your limits, you can communicate that to the person assigning you the task. But again, while it’s very easy to get behind on a task, it’s not the end of the world when it happens. Communication is key. Don’t beat yourself up over one late task – just don’t make it a habit.

Playing catch up is never fun, but it’s still important to prioritize your tasks even the ones you may be behind on.

Make Time for Yourself

As a student working a full-time job, I can understand that making time for yourself is way more complicated than it seems. But it’s critical — not only to your mental health, but to your time management skills. It’s so easy to get burnt out, making it difficult to be an effective time manager.

Block time for yourself. Maybe this is 15 minutes you take a walk, or just put it on your calendar when you need a break.

Understanding You’re Not Perfect

Nobody is perfect. Nobody. Even the best time managers still make mistakes. We’re human; it’s normal to miss a deadline or take a mental health day. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t make you a bad time manager. To be a great time manager, you must learn from your mistakes and grow from them.

About the Author:

Victor Carter will be graduating in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising & Public Relations and a minor in Writing. He currently serves as the VP of Professional Development on the GVPRSSA executive board. Additionally, Victor is a Marketing Manager at a Marketing Firm in Knoxville, TN, BS+Co.