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Enhancing Your Time Management Skills & Avoiding Burnout

It seems that since we are working remotely and are attending virtual classes, it gives the impression that we have more time on our hands. So more work and assignments get piled on to balance the time saved from commuting and getting ready. Do you feel like by the time you are done with one task you have to immediately start the next without a break, otherwise you will fall behind? Yup, I’ve been there, done that (might still be doing that but let’s not talk about it lol).

Don't be like Freshman Year Ann who fell asleep on an uncomfortable study chair mid study session from school burnout.

Here are some tips I follow to manage my insane schedule. Hopefully these help you too!

  • Get yourself a planner (or in my case 2). When I say my planner is my life, it is my life. Without my planner, I would lose my head and would miss every single meeting. Use your planner to write out all the meetings you have, deadlines of projects, and tasks you would like to complete each week or day. Writing it all out will help you visualize what is on your plate, and will give you a better understanding as to how much time you truly have to complete everything. By doing this, you can also prioritize your tasks, but we will get into that a bit later.

For me, I have a planner and a notebook. The planner is dedicated to keeping track of meetings, work deadlines, and daily tasks, while my notebook keeps track of my weekly assignments and readings for school. This system really keeps me on track of my different responsibilities – work, school, leadership roles, and extracurricular activities. I’m also extra by using different colors to differentiate between meetings, tasks, and special notes.

  • Prioritize your work based on due dates, level of importance, and level of effort. Make a “To Do” list with all the tasks you have to complete for the week or 2 weeks (better to plan ahead!). Then prioritize them based on when it is due. Decide if it is important to complete immediately or if it is fine to push it off a bit, and how much time it will take to complete it. Based on this information, you can plan out your week, daily task list, and when to include breaks throughout your day.

  • Learn to say “no”. There will be times where you have too much on your plate and you are going to have to say no to taking on a task or responsibility. The best way to do this is by asking the person giving you the task these following questions: (1) When is the deadline? (2) How long do you think this task will take? (3) What is the priority of this task on your (the asker’s) list and will there possibly be an emergency turnaround deadline? If you internally say “oh no” to any one of these questions’ answers, then you probably have too much on your plate to take on this task or responsibility. Remember, it is not your obligation to take on every task that is brought to you: you have the ability to say no. The important part is being able to successfully complete the tasks you have already committed to, without fail and burnout.

If you have aced your time management skills but still seem to reach a level of burnout, here are some things you can do to incorporate small but impactful breaks throughout your day and responsibilities.

  • Set a 5-minute break between every hour of work. You might not want to get up from your seat if you are focused and knee-deep in work or notes, but incorporating a 5-minute break after an hour of intense work helps to maintain your energy and health. So set a timer and stretch or walk around your room for 5 minutes after every hour – you will feel more productive, energized, and healthier.

  • Incorporate a 15-minute routine for major projects. If you have a major project looming over you that is going to take a while to finish, incorporate this 15-minute routine by Anthony Trollope to break up the work and keep your mind refreshed. Click here to learn more. Set 15-minute blocks throughout your day to work on this project and stick to the time blocks. This will help you feel more accomplished because: (1) You are able to work on other projects and not feel stuck on just one. (2) It gives your mind a break in case you hit a mental block. (3) It gives you smaller measures of progress to help maintain momentum.

  • Find something that brings you joy and incorporate that throughout your day. From a head-bopping playlist, to a side-splitting comedy podcast, to pictures of family and friends, find something that will help boost your happiness and energy levels and incorporate that throughout your day. I like to start my day with my motivational songs playlist and go into my hype playlist when my energy level starts to drop. For you it might be getting a quick stretch or desk workout, or a quick chat with friends. Whatever brings you joy, keep it as an energy booster for your long and busy days.

Researchers state that it takes 30 days of consistency to build a habit, so it is going to take time to see positive results. But if you put your mind to it, and incorporate these effective tips into your day, you will feel more energized, productive and happier.

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