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Top Time Management Tips

Finding the time you need to get through your to-do list, let alone your wish list, can seem impossible for working adults and students. Here are four time management tips from Columbia College managers to help you tame the calendar. 

Build your team

Assuming that time management problems are yours alone to fix can be problematic. Taking the time to express your goals and your situation to others can help them understand how important your education is to you, and how hard you are working to achieve your goals, said Debra Hartman, Crystal Lake location director. 

"When others see, they are much more likely to make sacrifices on your behalf," Hartman said. 

Jean Simmons, Evening campus regional director, agrees that sharing your struggles and successes is important to help you find support. "Get your family on board. If they feel like part of the solution, it makes life easier for you and they will tend to be more supportive," Simmons said. 

Tools for you, tools for the team

Whether you prefer pen and paper for scheduling or type it all into your digital calendar, you need something to help you keep track of dates, block out hours of time and keep you aware of what's coming up. But more importantly, your team needs to know too. If you can communicate the big test you have coming up on Friday to your team, they will understand why you need extra time to prepare that week, and can work out a plan. Because digital calendars like Google Calendar are so easy for multiple people to share, they're a great option for families. 

"My husband and I share documents, calendars and message all day long so we stay on the same page about where to be and when and who's picking up which kid from where," said Brandi Herrman, instructor of business administration. "We also have Google Hangouts on our phones — making sure that it's easy to contact each other and we have a record of it." 

Only balance the right things

It may be tempting to try to keep everything on the schedule and treat school as an add-on, but that will lead to "emotional and physical wear and tear," said Mark Bowles, student support services director. 

Instead, consider a blank weekly schedule. Add in your most essential items, like work hours, childcare hours and most important appointments. As you add each item, consider the impact it will have on your day and if there are any ways to reduce the amount of time or effort it would take to accomplish that task. 

Hartman encourages the use of carpools as one schedule-saver. Then, schedule school time in, right with these essential activities, to show yourself and your team that it is a priority. 

Before you try to squeeze in anything else, carve out space for a little self-care and family time. "When one steals from downtime to try to catch up somewhere else – that's a cure that does more harm than the disease itself, which is the problem of not having enough time for other responsibilities," Bowles said. 

When you schedule in time for some fun with your family, "this gives everyone something to look forward to as they work through the responsibilities of their week," said Becky Gordon-Bocklage, director of the Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship

See the big picture

With any luck, after essential activities, school and a bit of downtime are on your calendar, there may be a few hours left. Decide what you will spend on social life, volunteer service, personal projects and other activities. If you don't have as much time as you'd like to dedicate to those aspects of your life, be patient with yourself and remember that you won't be in school forever. 

"Do not hesitate to explain that you may need to take more than you give at this time," Hartman said. "We all go through seasons in our life when that imbalance occurs and when you are able, when the degree is done, it can be your turn to give more than you get."

Related content:

How Do I Do it All and Not Make a Mess of Everything?

Week in the Life of an Online Student

Rocking Your Busy Life and School at the Same Time

Time Management, Family

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