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Time Management.... Is that even a thing?

Posted By Jamie A. Taylor, Monday, September 29, 2014

I hope that your year is off to a wonderful start- now that we have made it through RA Training and Opening.  (Be excited- YOU made it!) Now is the time to get all of your Fall events completely underway!

I don’t know about you, but time management is something that I am ALWAYS battling.  My middle name at this point in my career has become Over-Committed.  :)

As THAT student who took the last two years of my undergraduate career online (while being a Resident Assistant and an Orientation Leader) to maximize my ability to be involved on campus, you would think that I had time management in the bag.  Well- I may have a pretty good handle on it but I am no expert.  I can nonetheless, tell you how things have worked for me.  I am in a unique position as a Graduate Student.  I am working a full time job in housing (we all know that means more than full time), enrolled in 9 graduate hours, the University’s Cheerleading Coach among being involved in many other things.  So the habits that I developed when I discovered this amazing world of Student Affairs in undergrad have continued to develop and even move to a new level since starting graduate school. 

Here are a couple of tips that I can give you to attempt to keep your head on straight while balancing on a beach ball and juggling all of the things that we tend to take on.  These are the things that I have to remind myself of on a daily basis.  (If I can do it, YOU can do it.) :)

Why is it important?- Time management is important so that you feel like you have a sense of control over your life.  It is imperative to learn how to manage your time so it doesn’t manage you. 

Plan Ahead!- Get a calendar, make to-do lists.  I personally have two calendars, my Outlook calendar and an actual agenda book (I know, I know- that is old school).  The vital part of planning ahead is doing what works for you.  When you have an assignment due- write down that it is due 3 or 4 days before it actually is.  If you have an event coming up, prioritize the different aspects of the planning process on your to-do list.  Ask yourself, what needs to be done first.  Also, make sure that you are utilizing your time wisely between meetings, classes, work obligations and personal obligations. 

Be Organized- When thinking about time management, being organized is the best feeling EVER! Organization isn’t always easy- but it will pay off.  Below I have put together a list of things that may help you on your quest to stay organized. 

·      Yearly Calendar

·      Monthly Calendar

·      Weekly Calendar

·      To-Do Lists

·      Organized Workspace (folders, drawers, etc)

·      Different Notebooks for Different Obligations

·      Writing Down EVERYTHING

PRIORITIZE, PRIORITIZE, PRIORITIZE!!!- Take a look at your to-do list and pick out the items that are the most important/need to be completed first.  Set goals and accomplish them.  Make sure that you don’t postpone the small task; those things can grow, grow and grow until they become your really big tasks.  Knock out the little things. 

Take Care of Yourself!!- YOU are the most important thing in your life.  If you aren’t sleeping enough, eating enough or taking enough YOU time- then how are you going to take care of others? Or complete the things that you need to get done?

·      Don’t Procrastinate- this can get you in A LOT of trouble

·      Learn to say “no”- THIS IS THE HARDEST PART.  I want to make sure that everyone has everything they need and that I am doing the best job that I can.  Saying “no” will be my biggest strength/weakness forever.  But it is important… You need to say “no” when something is outside the lines of your job or outside of something that you want to do.  Saying “no” is the biggest component of making sure that you are taking care of yourself.  “ME” Time is VITAL to a successful career in Student Affairs. 

·      Take short breaks- It is necessary to stay refreshed while working on any tasks.  Get up and walk away for 5-10 minutes… Just long enough to come back with a fresh set of eyes.  It truly changes everything. 

Try to be flexible…  Know when to ask for help.  Prepare for the unexpected.  Rearrange/adjust your calendar accordingly.  Take care of the little distractions when necessary. 

Have a Vision- Don’t forget to look at the “big picture”.  Keep your goals visible so you can revisit them often.  Know what is important to you and try to have a positive attitude. 


I know that you may feel like I have just provided you with information overload. But the truth is- if you just take this Time Management thing one step at a time- you can get a handle on it too.  Keep your head up and hang in there! :)


Tags:  grads  graduate students  housing  leadership  SEAHO  time management 

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Comments on this post...

Jacquelyn Deptula says...
Posted Monday, September 29, 2014
Thank you Jamie for sharing your thoughts on time management!! Wow, you seem incredibly busy!

I wanted to talk about one of the things you mentioned: saying No. It's hard. I remember as a grad student you feel like you have to say yes to everything or you feel like you are going to miss a great opportunity. Echoing what Jamie said though, you have to take care of yourself. If you are always saying yes you will become overwhelmed and over committed and it will be hard to take care of yourself. Furthermore, from an employer standpoint, if I see the same person taking on all sorts of tasks, I may overlook them for the next opportunity to give them a break or give someone else a chance. Take it from my experience, the time you are overlooked WILL ALWAYS be the project/experience that you were most looking forward to!

In conclusion, my advice for you is to weigh pros and cons of all of the opportunities. When you are asked to do something think: 1. Do I really have time for this? and 2. Am I gaining these skills in another place and maybe I can turn this one down? It doesn't get any easier as a professional so you will have to learn how to say no now. No one will hold it against you; promise. AND if you still feel that guilt that we sometimes have try something like this "I don't think I can help with that because I have a lot on my plate right now, but please keep me in mind in the future."

Best of luck!
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