Many people develop an interest in time management whilst at college. After the structure of home life and high school, college often offers an unprecedented amount of unscheduled time. Balancing parties, classes, studying and part-time work can become a juggling act.
Once the summer break arrives, you probably just want to sleep, play video games, hang out with friends, and enjoy yourself. But you might well need to get a job in order to pay your tuition fees, or work experience to put yourself in a better position when you graduate. You may also want to get ahead for the upcoming academic year, or work on projects of you own.
This is where good time management habits can really help you. Don’t let your summer end up feeling like a waste of time (trust me, five years on, you’ll regret spending a week straight playing the earlier incarnations of Black and White and Sims…)
Note – many of these tips apply to freelancers too, or anyone taking a vacation or sabbatical to work on their own projects.
- Decide On Your Summer Goals
What do you want to achieve this summer? Perhaps you just want to earn some cash. More likely, you’ll have multiple goals – maybe getting some work experience, making a start on the reading for next semester, and working on a personal project (such as starting a side business, writing poetry, practicing guitar, and so on).
Get clear about what you want to achieve. Write it down, and put it somewhere where you’ll see it first thing every morning. Consider telling an older sibling or your parents about your goals: don’t be afraid to ask for their support and encouragement. They might not share or even understand your ambitions, but if they see that your goals are important to you, they should be willing to encourage you. If you can’t count on family for that kind of support, look to friends or neighbours.
- Get Into A Routine
Many students have sleep patterns that aren’t exactly orthodox. Summer’s unlikely to involve 8am classes – and you may want to take advantage of being able to sleep till lunchtime. Try to establish a routine that works for you, though.
Try to spend an hour or two early on in your day, perhaps straight after breakfast, working towards one of your goals. If you start the morning by surfing the net, watching a DVD boxset or playing a computer game, you’ll find the whole day escaping from you…
Having a part-time or casual job can actually make it easier to stay productive over the summer, as it helps to structure your day.
- Beat the Procrastination Habit
If you can overcome tendencies to procrastinate whilst you’re a student, you’ll set yourself up for success throughout the rest of your life. Procrastination involves putting things off, usually engaging in time-wasting and not especially fulfilling activities whilst doing so.
Some useful procrastination-busting tips are:
- Keep your goals in mind (and ideally, written down in sight).
- Pick one task to focus on, and see it through to completion.
- Find a quiet place to work with few distractions – a local library or even park can be good.
- Turn off your internet connection!
- Set time limits on when you can engage in certain activities; you might decide that you won’t play computer games before dinner time, or that you won’t watch more than three hours of television each day.
- Make a To-Do List
If you have several big goals for the summer (eg. getting fit, reading six books, and writing an essay), you might find it hard to know quite where to start. Dithering doesn’t do anything for your motivation levels.
Write a simple to-do list, ideally at the start of each week. Look at any scheduled commitments (social events, work) and fit other tasks around them. Try to spread things across the summer: for example, if you want to read six books and you have six weeks, aiming for one a week makes sense!
Having a to-do list can really help keep your mind on track. It ensures you don’t get to the end of the summer and think “I wish I’d got around to doing that.”
If you’re a student, what are your goals for the summer? If you’re an ex-student, do you have any great tips for summer time management?
|Written on 7/8/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ([email protected]) or check out her website at Aliventures.||Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan|