It is quite hard to manage time when you work full time, have other family and social needs to attend to and also a challenging Master’s program to complete. You need to strategise to be able to take full control of your time and regulate it appropriately. To take control of your time means you should have a plan which is translated into daily objectives and maximises your productive output.
In my studies with the University of London, I have learned some valuable time management techniques you can practice, which I have implemented and have helped me achieve high levels of success in the course:
Plan your day in advance. Insomnia is mostly caused by worrying about the next day, so doing this relaxes you and guarantees you a good night’s sleep. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said that “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
The 80:20 rule
This is a vital concept. Research has proven that 20% of what we do accounts for 80% of our results. My recommendation is that you should focus on and try to accomplish on a daily basis the few things that are most crucial to your success. For a student, one of your top two goals for the day would be to study for some hours. After completing this 20% (normally the top most important two goals of our day), you can then proceed to complete the minor 80%. In other words, don’t major in the minor things and try to prioritise your goals day in day out.
Research has proven that 30 minutes is spent by most people every day finding missing items in their rooms or in their computers. Organise yourself and make sure everything has its designated location so that you always go there to locate it when needed. For workers, sit down and arrange all your files and folders in your PC based using a criterion you think is logical so that you can easily locate them. You will save so much time by getting organised. As Ashley Ormon said: “You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.”
Focus is another key. We often start something, don’t quite finish it and then move onto something else, and at the end of the day it’s like we didn’t accomplish anything at all. Focus is a discipline that must never leave you! Take one task and ensure you finish it. This concept is called the discipline of finishing! Finish one and move to the next.
Many of us are too nice! We say yes to everything and at the end of the day we end up being overloaded. Don’t let your mouth overload your back! Here’s a tip: Say ‘I don’t think so but if my mind changes I will call you’. You can use this not to over commit yourself. Steve Jobs said “My favourite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
Prioritisation is paramount. If you are so busy that you always complain you don’t have time for anything, then you are not prioritising things in your life. Identify few key things and focus on them, as you cannot do everything. Follow Bruce Lee’s example: “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.”
I wish you success as you apply these principles!
Sinneh is studying the MSc in Professional Accountancy in Sierra Leone.