Strategies for Time Management

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[Originally posted on futuresinitiative.org on October 14, 2018]

During a recent business meeting at the Futures Initiative, we spent 15-20 minutes sharing strategies for time management in a fishbowl activity.

There are different ways to do a fishbowl: you can divide a class into discussants and listeners, where groups sit in different spaces in the room; or in a small enough group such as ours, you can go around the room and ask each participant to talk for 1 minute while everyone else practices listening and reflection. (Some educators, such as Jesse Stommel, lead fishbowl discussions using Twitter.)

The beginning of every academic year is startling as we shift into higher gears of productivity. For this activity, I wanted to give every participant time to share at least one strategy as well as time to reflect on new strategies and tools. One minute is actually a lot longer than it seems! Most participants were able to share more than one strategy. What I really like about this activity is that everyone gets equal time to speak and equal time to listen; structuring time like this makes everyone’s voice feel equally valued, equally important.

Here are the strategies everyone shared. I hope you find them helpful.

  • Adashima: Sleep – being well-rested helps you do things well and feel good about your accomplishments; Exercise – I have more energy when I exercise; Reward Yourself – a small thing like buying yourself a treat; Make a “Things to Do” List – includes academic life, work, and personal – post lists in different places.
  • Cathy: Schedule Fun – buy tickets and register for fun things in advance; block days off so you don’t get overbooked, overworked.
  • Christina: Count Total Hours Worked – count how many hours you worked on something rather than counting how many pages you wrote.
  • Gus: Bake – make something you’ve never made – do something new that takes you out of your comfort zone; it resets the week and helps you relax, let go of stress.
  • Jessica: Book recommendation: Getting Things Done – organize files so you don’t spend time looking for things – get it out of your brain and onto a list so you don’t spend time worrying about stuff you’re forgetting. Use a spreadsheet for longer timelines; “Keep” Task-keeping tool. “Self Control” – Google Chrome extension.
  • Kashema: Chunk Your Time – promise yourself that from this time to this time, this is all I will work on – turn off your phone and log off social media when you do it (in work space for that “chunk” of time – time varies from 20 min to 3 hours)
  • Katina: Be Aware of Your Own Expectations – use a timer, a 20 min timer can make a large task seem smaller and more manageable. Using a timer at the beginning of the day can help set up time without being pulled into something else. Embrace Avoidance – do something else and then come back to it.
  • Raven: Ask for Help – it can be a struggle when you don’t feel competent enough to ask for help for more time, needing a point person to help with time management; look for places where you can go to talk about it with someone you feel safe talking with.
  • Siqi: Recommended Apps: “Self-Control” – computer app to block you from going to certain pages; “Toggl” to log time spent on different projects; “To-Doist”; morning pages each day – automatically feels like you have accomplished something for the day (e.g., a free write).

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