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How I Have Mastered My Time
I am 100% certain this was my essay topic when applying for college right out of high school. Because that is how long I’ve been putting far too much on my plate, at all times. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly love my downtime when I have nothing planned, but I have a bad habit of wanting to do everything all at once. Here is how I have mastered managing my time.
While in high school I played tennis in the spring, worked part-time, and of course dedicated a lot of time to friends. I dabbled in other sports too (field hockey in the fall, track in the winter) but I didn’t end up sticking with either one (thank goodness). Not because I didn’t have the time, because I know I would have made the time, somehow. It was a lack of interest.
I had high school 7am-2:30pm Mon-Fri, tennis practice Mon-Fri 3p-5pm (and occasionally on the weekends), and I somehow squeezed in a part-time job about two nights out of the week and once on weekends. For high school, this was a lot to take on.
I look back on it now and think that’s nothing! But my time management skills I learned in high school have grown substantially.
For my undergrad, I set a goal to finish in the standard four years, which meant this would be a full-time workload. I continued to play tennis, but learned quickly that when you play a sport in college it becomes an all-year-round commitment. Tennis in the fall, tennis in the winter, tennis in the spring. Tennis on the weekdays, tennis on the weekends. I had a new part-time job that I went to about 3 days a week, and of course I made sure to spend time with friends and family.
Last Year (2016)
I had a great ending to 2016. I was working a full-time job that I love (still am!), working on my MBA (all done!), and I became engaged. Now, most people I know in this situation take their time planning their wedding. They finish with school and then tackle wedding planning, especially if its a DIY Wedding.
Me? Not so much.
My first thought was to have a fall wedding. My plan was October, which would have given me about 10 months to plan. I would be done my MBA in June and I could have the next four months solely dedicated to planning my wedding.
It didn’t go that way.
My now husband suggested a spring wedding. When I asked “why spring and not fall?” He responded: “so I can marry you sooner.”
That was enough motivation for me to stretch my time the thinnest I ever have. I submitted my last final for my MBA on June 10th and one week after, on June 17th, I walked down the aisle.
First and foremost, set goals for yourself. What do you want to achieve and in what kind of timeframe? Talk about these goals, whether it’s to yourself, to a loved one, a co-worker, anyone! Talking about things always makes the path to success clearer for me.
Once you have your goals set (and these can change as time goes on) write them down. I do best when I can visualize my plans outside of just my mind. It makes my to-do-list in my head look less messy and overwhelming.
What are some items on your to-do-list that aren’t necessary? What items could prohibit you from success? Where can you cut out the wasted time? Are there any items at the top of your list that would benefit better to move towards the bottom of your list?
Identify which tasks will ultimately carry the most value for you, and which ones may only weigh you down in the process. For example, school and wedding planning: if you have a major paper due that day, but you find yourself stressing and contemplating over which napkins to have on your big day, then you’re probably prioritizing wrong.
Get the things done that really matter first. Now you may say “but napkin choices really matter to me!” Sure, they do, but completing your school assignment should matter more at that moment. Learning to identify which tasks require prompt action and which ones simply need to be done will help you to properly prioritize.
Focus and Make Decisions
When you’re trying to juggle school, work, wedding planning, or whatever else you have going on, try to focus on one thing at a time. This can be hard, I know. But in my experience, giving 100% of your time and energy to one thing gives you a greater chance of completing that task the right way the first time. Otherwise you may find yourself having to redo things and inevitably waste more time.
Focus on what you really want to accomplish at that time. Don’t become overwhelmed by too many choices; use both your instinct and reasoning to make the best decision for yourself in that moment.
Ask for Help
This is what I struggle with the most. I like to do everything on my own, no matter how tiring it may be. Try to avoid my mistakes and do not be afraid to ask for help. Problems can easily arise that may set you back on your original goals and plans. Instead of stressing out over the issues you cannot avoid, reach out to those you feel comfortable communicating with.
Even if no one can physically help you with your to-do-list, talking it out can be extremely beneficial. You don’t have to figure out everything on your own. Plus, someone may have great advice for you that you weren’t able to think of yourself. Ask. For. Help.
Self-awareness and Patience
No one is like you. You work at your pace, you plan and set goals your way, you prioritize the way that works for you and your life. You may like to work in the morning while others prefer the night. You may like to procrastinate until the day before while someone else finished days prior. No one way is better than the other.
Don’t compare your goals and progress to anyone else. Stay true to yourself and manage your time in a way that works best for you.