It’s official - summer’s gone and it is time to buckle down. With autumn upon us, it is more important than ever to keep up with all you have going on. Essays, group projects, SAT/ACT test prep and test dates, college showcases and training sessions are probably just a fraction of the items on your to-do list – and they all require serious chunks of time. It’s natural to wonder how you’re going to do everything, let alone do it well. Take a look at these tips to help you manage your time and ensure that you are able to thrive, not merely survive, in the months ahead.
Write It Down
While you may think it’s dorky or unnecessary (“Of course I’ll remember that!”), writing things down is a critical component of time management. Get a planner or use a calendar app on your phone and input your schedule and any “to-do” items for the next month: school, clubs, practices, games, time for homework, sleepovers with friends; any and everything should go in. Having a visual lets you see just how busy you are and how essential it is to make the most of the pockets of free time that you do have. Some weeks will be more hectic than others, but you’ll be able to anticipate the busy weeks by keeping a schedule and shortening your Netflix binges and Instagram scrolling accordingly. We also recommend self-assigning mini due dates for major projects, tests or papers and setting alarm reminders to keep you honest. This type of organization is difficult but pays dividends in the long run.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
Having trouble staying focused? The Pomodoro Technique was designed to help maximize efficiency, time, and focus so that you are as productive as possible. It’s a simple method: Work hard for 25 minutes – no distractions! – and then take a five minute break. Repeat.
A 2017 USC study found that, on average, Americans spend 24 hours a week online while another study discovered that a typical American barely makes it ten minutes without checking their phone. Technology has many benefits, of course, but these studies are alarming. It’s no wonder that we struggle with time management when the consistent and perpetual notifications from our phones, computers, and tablets release a brain chemical that rewards us and makes us crave even more screen time. Despair not, for there is hope! Various websites, apps, and even internet browser extensions allow you to temporarily block distracting websites so that you can hunker down and get things done.
It may be tough at first, but time management is an important skill that you can and should master. It takes time to create a new habit, but once you do you’ll never look back.
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Katie Giberson is an educator, a coach, and a former professional athlete whose own college soccer journey provides valuable perspective when advising clients in her role as CBW Soccer Elite's Head of Recruiting. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.