When you have any number of assignments and projects with looming deadlines, it can be difficult to properly manage your time and get everything done. Strategic deadline setting is essential to producing successful work without burning out. If you’re feeling overloaded by work and stressed by upcoming deadlines, you can end up losing your motivation, creativity, and momentum and end up producing lower-quality work in the process. So, if you are feeling like you’ve hit a creative wall, check out some of these tips for improving your time management skills.
1. Don’t sacrifice other areas of your life for work.
Make time for friendships and socialization, self-care and basic routines, fun/hobbies, love/intimacy, relaxation/downtime, and your work and/or education. Don’t plan your life around your work, plan your work to fit into your life.
2. Be intentional in meeting deadlines.
Producing great quality work is only worth it if you turn it in on time. Handing in late assignments can cost you and mean you won’t get credit for the actual value of the work. Make meeting deadlines a priority and a regular habit in your life.
3. Daily preparation is key.
Take a few minutes to ground yourself and gather your thoughts to prepare yourself mentally for the day before you start work.
4. Have a clear plan with reasonable and achievable goals.
This goes for both your short-term and long-term goals. Don’t make it any harder for yourself – be consistent in how you manage your work. Make sure all your assignments and deadlines are written down in one place.
5. Break your assignments up into smaller units.
This makes your tasks easier for you to handle, so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed or intimidated. If you feel like you can’t face a project, don’t look at it in its entirety: approach it as if it’s less daunting than it is. Try taking it just ten minutes at a time, so you won’t feel overwhelmed.
6. Cushion your time estimates.
This means adding a small buffer onto each deadline so you leave yourself room for unexpected delays and the possibility of handing in work early.
7. Prioritize effectively
Decide what is most important based on a combination of the due date, how long you think it will take, and how much effort you will need to put into it. If you are struggling even a little with managing your time effectively, do not take on extra tasks that are not essential and focus on what you absolutely need to get done.
8. Share the workload evenly.
If you are working on a group project, make sure you and the other members of your team have equal amounts of assignment. If you feel you are doing the lion’s share of the work, insist on redistributing the tasks or delegating some of your sections to others so you don’t overwork yourself for the sake of others. Don’t overcommit and end up spreading yourself too thin.
9. Give yourself time to rest and recover.
It is completely okay to have the occasional all-nighter or spend all day working on one project. But you can’t make this a habit. Follow these intense sessions with some deliberate time for relaxation to allow your brain and your body to recuperate.
10. Plan ahead for the next day.
Just like you begin your day by setting your intentions, end the day the exact same way; reassess your schedule and work out what you need to do tomorrow to give yourself a head start on the next day. And, more importantly, take the time to acknowledge what you have accomplished today, even if it didn’t go exactly as you’d planned.
When it comes down to it, managing your time effectively and meeting your deadlines is about being deliberate and proactive in the way you plan your day. Take the time to make a solid plan for each workday and prioritize your tasks carefully. Most importantly, don’t let your basic needs fall by the wayside: block out time for your work and schedule self-care and relaxation around it. Setting limits and developing driven time management skills is vital to leading a balanced, well-rounded lifestyle.