Published on January 17, 2019, at 8:51 a.m.
by Trenton Brasfield.
Time management is defined as the ability to plan and control how someone spends the hours in the day to effectively accomplish their goals. The idea of time management is an elusive one for me; we don’t physically sense time, yet we are always aware of its presence. Whether you feel time is real or just a figure of some alternative dimension, the fact remains that in the world we live — it matters.
Managing time is a complicated task to master. We all might not be good at it, but we all have to navigate it. This skill is vital for a public relations student like myself. With a few tips, I have learned to better manage my time.
Conduct a time audit
You need to figure out what exactly you are spending your time on. You might think it only takes you 15 minutes to check your morning emails and missed calls, when it actually takes 45.
I had the same problem during my junior year. I thought it only took me 15 minutes to walk from Reese Phifer Hall to North Lawn Hall, when it actually took 30. This is a concern when you only have about 10 minutes to make it across the University of Alabama campus. I fixed this issue by taking the bus.
Set a time limit
When you have multiple things to complete, it is best to think ahead and determine how long it will take you to complete each task — once determined, set a time limit.
Most PR students strive for perfection, and while this is a good goal to have, it can eat away at time. On average, I have 10 reminders on my to-do list, in addition to my class schedule. Trying to perfect 10 things daily takes up time. To combat this problem, I determine a time limit to complete a task. If I have an assignment due that should only take 30 minutes, but I know my need for perfection will make it take an hour, I set a timer for 45 minutes. This allows me enough time to dwell on the assignment while also pressuring me to move on.
Nothing is worse than waking up with a to-do list running through your head. You will usually find yourself wandering around your home while actually accomplishing nothing. It’s a pastime that I frequent.
This is why I plan ahead. By writing down my objectives for the next day the night before, I lose the sense of urgency when I wake in the morning. I actually have a chalkboard next to my front door, which allows me to visualize what I have planned for my day — right before I exit.
Learn to outsource
As a PR student, I have had group projects where not everyone has the same definition of teamwork. In those situations, I find myself picking up additional responsibilities when I should be outsourcing them. I am a person who likes to take on a challenge. So when I find myself loaded down with responsibilities, I simply outsource some tasks to others around me. By doing this, I am able to focus on more pressing matters.
Change your schedule
In a society where conformity wins, making your own rules can be ambitious. Don’t be apprehensive to try something new. I usually wake up three hours before I have to be somewhere. A majority of my peers are baffled by this, but it works for me. By rising this early, I have time to procrastinate peacefully. I could make a cup of tea, read the news section or take another nap before I leave — a luxury not afforded to my peers who wake 25 minutes before class.
By changing your schedule, you can find a pattern that works for you. Once this happens, you will be able to get things done that you normally wouldn’t get done. It’s your life; you lead the way.
Take a break
Scheduling breaks is a decisive measure in time management. Without having time to shut off the brain and appreciating life outside of Reese Phifer Hall, even the best PR student can succumb to burnout. Throughout my day, I try to plan increments of time to take a walk, use social media or talk to a friend. I also make sure to not work past these breaks.
STOP BEING A PERFECTIONIST
This is like a war-cry for most PR students, but we can’t help it. I am aware that the word “perfect” is like time — an intangibly evasive illusion of the world we occupy. Since perfection doesn’t truly exist, don’t waste time trying to achieve it. Do your best, and move onto the next task.
This could be the war-cry of a PR student’s parent. When I speak to my mother about my day, she usually requires me to re-introduce my obligations. I don’t have time for that. This lack of understanding leaves her confused, and ends with her telling me “you do too much.” Honestly, I can’t blame her. I am an assiduous individual. Through these conversations, I have learned to not take on as many responsibilities.
It’s permitted that I don’t always make A’s, meet with friends, write perfect essays, wear a smile, be the first person in line, be on time, clean my room, put gas in my car — you get the point.
However, it is expected that I manage my time in a way that allows me to be the “perfect” me.