Time Management: Prioritizing Tasks.

When things get out of hand (From LOLitsLloyd on Flickr)

I’ve written an earlier post about how to start managing your time properly by consciously assessing how much time you actually have. Here, I will explain a bit further of how to really use your time more efficiently by prioritize your assignments. Why? So you can get more work done, on-time.

First off, take a look at what assignments are due and order them by deadline, from earliest to latest. Of these assignments, if you have any that are due right now, as in, today or tomorrow, please stop reading this (or anything else, including Facebook) and do them right now. But, if you’ve been following my time management tips so far, you shouldn’t have fires burning on your desk and will have at least a little wiggle-room for what to accomplish next.

Now, start assessing your assignments list. What can be taken care of immediately? Short response papers and articles, for instance, can be done relatively quickly compared to, say, a 15 page term paper. These short assignments can be completed first as they are (for the most part) relatively easy and cluttering up your assignment schedule. As such, they should be the first to get done and quickly. By doing so, you’re freeing up more time to conquer the larger, more daunting assignments– like, the ones that count for a larger percentage of your grade and/or the ones your professor will be looking at closest. If anything, you can call it survival of the fittest and, in the arena of schoolwork, they should be eliminated immediately.

Following this method, you should work on assignments in order of least difficult and quickest to hardest and most time-consuming. You will then allow yourself to devote most of your time to assignments that require the most time, effort, and concentration, without other assignments slowing smoldering in the back of your mind. Wouldn’t it be easier to work solely and dutifully on that massive 10-15 page paper on Russian literature that’s 50% of your grade without smaller assignments nagging at you?

That being said, you want to make sure you’re being completely honest with yourself and realistic: in order for ANY of this to work, you need to devote the truly appropriate amount of time each assignment. This means you can’t dilly-dally over a 1-2 page response paper for four days; this would be the complete opposite of what I’m saying. Misappropriation of time is a symptom of procrastination— meaning, spending way too much time on menial tasks are really attempts to put off tackling the bigger ones. This not only makes smaller, menial tasks more tedious and time-consuming (literally), but also leaves you with little time for assignments that really matter. This is where you have to be as blunt and honest with yourself as possible– to know if the time you’re using is an appropriate amount of you’re just slacking off. And, should you realize that, yes, you are slacking off, you’ll need to summon the inner drive to cut it out and finish it, so you carry on to the next item on your agenda.

This is all easier said than done– and I know exactly how hard this can be. Like writing itself, this requires self-discipline and, sometimes, a little self-adjustment. But, with practice, you’ll be well on your way to acing your papers and your semester as a whole. This may not seem like writing advice per se, but methods like these give you the tools– such as more time and more discipline– to better yourself as a writer and as a student.

Stefanie Arr

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