The three keys to long-term time management success:
1. Enter all time and schedule-related information in your Study Plan Central book.
2. Take the book with you everywhere you go.
3. Give the book regular, daily attention and write things down in it on a regular basis.
Have you ever had this experience? You miss an important meeting or appointment and later say to yourself, “I know I had that written down somewhere.” If you follow the system outlined in this chapter, your Study Plan Central book will remove that problem for you permanently.
You’ll find some sample time management forms on pages 21 to 23 that you can photocopy and incorporate into your Study Plan Central book.
First, you’ll find a Planning Calendar, which you should enlarge dramatically with your photocopiers and use to record all the time essentials of your academic projects and your daily life. And I mean everything. Start with your due date and work backwards, including all the intermediary steps related to your project you know about. Write down all your relevant work commitments. Write down all your personal commitments. It won’t take long, so why not invest a few minutes now? You’ll find an example of a filled-out Planning Calendar on page 21.
After the Planning Calendar, you’ll find a weekly Priority Task Sheet. This will help you arrange your tasks in order of importance which is, I assure you, not necessarily the order in which they show up! Intelligent use of your Priority Task Sheet every week is an absolute must if you are facing a last-minute study situation.
How do you use the sheet? Write down everything you want to get done over the next week. Then ask yourself, “If I can only get one or two things done this week, what would they be?” Write these down and mark them with an “H.” These are the urgent, high-priority items. Now ask yourself which of the things could conceivably wait until next week. These are the low-priority items; mark them with an “L.” (By the way, if you find yourself putting off something in this category week after week, take a moment to consider whether you should really be focusing on it at all!) Everything else is a middle-priority. Mark it with an ”M.” You’ll find an example of a completed Priority Task Sheet on page 22.
The last form you’ll be working with is the Daily Schedule. Before you enter anything onto this schedule of an academic or work-related nature, remember the essentials! You have to eat. You have to sleep. Once you’ve built these basics into your day, you’ll be ready to transfer the items from your Priority Task Sheet to your Daily Schedule. Put the items marked with an “H” first; whenever you can, put the most intimidating or difficult tasks first. (Give them your best shot, then get them out of the way!) Then enter as many “M” items as you can realistically fit into the day. Finally, enter any of the “L” items there’s enough room in the schedule to accommodate.
Solet’s say you have three hours free on Wednesday afternoon. As luck would have it, afternoons are your personal “prime time,” so you want to make the very most of this block of time. You schedule your “H”-priority research-gathering work for that slot, and you plan to start that sociology assignment, due next month, between breakfast and your 10 a.m. class. However you manage your day, be sure to update your Daily Schedule every single day!