As a student working while in college or at a trade school, you can wear many hats – you’re a student, a parent, a friend, an employee and more. There are times when two or more of your roles can overlap, and it can become stressful to find time to complete everything. To help you succeed in each role you have, Apex Technical School offers you seven time management techniques.
Keep a Planner or a Schedule
Balancing work while going to school can create a hectic schedule, and the best way to stay on top of it is by using a planner – whether it’s a physical planner or using your calendar features on your smartphone.
When you keep your planner with you at all times, you can keep track of everything you need to do. It can be used to keep your work and school schedule, as well as your assignments or requirements for both. A planner can help you keep track of where you need to be, what you need to do, and can limit the stress of forgetting things.
One benefit of using a digital calendar is that you can set reminders, create to-do lists and organize different types of tasks by color.
Find Your Productivity Peak – Breaks are Important
Your circadian rhythm (CR) is your internal, 24-hour clock that tells you when your body is ready is for sleep. Your CR also manages other cycles in your body, like your ultradian rhythm (UR). Your UR is what drives your productivity while you are awake, and it works in 90-120-minute sequences. Why? Because your brain can only focus for 90-120 minutes at a time and then you need to take a break.
At the beginning of the UR, you’ll have your most productive time (roughly 90 minutes). This is the time you want to focus on your work or other tasks. Then, when your cycle is complete, you experience a 20-minute break that is needed to refocus and regenerate. Step away, take a coffee break or check your social media profiles.
Your ultradian rhythm, just like your circadian rhythm, is unique to you. When you know what time of day works best for you, you can depend on that time to prioritize and complete work or school tasks efficiently. You’ll also be more productive when you take regular breaks to give your brain a rest.
Make, then Prioritize, a To-Do List
Along with your schedule, you can create to-do lists. When you write down everything you need done, you can prioritize the tasks by when they need to be complete, or space them out by how much time they will require. When you prioritize and follow the new to-do list with your schedule, you can prevent stress, manage time and keep your work and school life in order.
Complete Related Tasks Together
When you complete similar tasks all at the same time it allows your brain to continue in a constant flow without making it switch skill sets.
When you have, for example, 30 emails to read and one presentation to prepare, it is better if you schedule to read and reply to all the emails in a row. That may seem intimidating, but the emails require the same set of skills and thought process. When you complete similar tasks all at the same time, it will reduce start-up and slow-down time and increase focus.
When you put similar things in one group to complete, it is a technique called batching
Utilize Waiting Time
There are many moments that happen every day where you spend time waiting: for the bus, in a doctor’s office, on the elliptical at the gym, before work or before class. Those moments can be used to complete work that needs to be done. If you complete tasks while you wait, you can save time in other parts of your day.
Make Every Day/Week To-do’s a Habit
When you have a consistent work and/or school schedule, it will quickly become habitual.
On your schedule, when a task or assignment happens often, you should complete it at the same time each day. When you begin a regular schedule, it becomes expected, and you know where you need to be or what you should do during that time. Organizing your schedule to repeat daily or weekly will become a habit that will also help you organize your spare time because it will become a part of your rhythm.
Know the Importance of Work Life Balance
With all the roles you keep at school and work, one of your goals should be to make time for yourself. Leisure time should always be included in your daily or weekly schedule to do things that you enjoy.
In your schedule or to-do list, don’t forget to set some time away for yourself. When you have time to refresh, your focus will increase while your stress decreases, and you will make your working hours more beneficial.
Working While Going to School
Working while going to school takes dedication. To make the most of your time, use a calendar, make habits, use your waiting time to get things done and make extra time to do things for you.
For more school tips or information on the trades, check out all our resources in Apex Toolbox Chatter or contact Apex Technical School.
*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the New York State Education Department.
Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.