Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reader Request: Mastering Time Management

This week's reader request comes from a lovely gal named Nathaly who has some concerns about time management. It's something that affects all of us so I hope you'll all benefit from the tips below, here is what she wrote:

Hello Karla!

My name is Nathaly, and I have a question for you. As a college student, I'm having a lot of trouble with time management due to all the obligations a typical college student has such as school work, family, friends, student groups, hobbies, applying for internships, financial troubles etc, etc. I am trying to establish a good daily routine in which I can make the most of my time, but don't really know where to start.

Besides fitting in my obligations, I also want to make time for a good amount of sleep, exercise, healthy eating, bible time, and the like. I decided it would be useful to look at the daily routines of people I admire and you are one of them. You seem like a highly effective person and it seems like you have a close relationship with God. I would love to see how you organize your day and how you dedicate time to God, as well!

Thank you so much!


Here is my note to her and some necessary steps to take in order to master time management.

Hi Nathaly!

Thank you for taking the time to write me, I'm so flattered by your sweet words. :) I was a college student myself not too long ago and I will most certainly do my best to share with you how I organize my day/time so you can accomplish as much as possible in each day. I used to be a Professional Organizer too so I'm very familiar with organizing spaces but also schedules.

As a student, organizing your time and various life demands is one of the greatest challenges that you'll face.With different class subjects and times each day, things can be tricky, nevermind adding friends, family, prayer, or even a job into the mix. Below are some tips I recommend to help you set up a schedule that works best for you.

Time Management Success Tips

1. Use One Calendar Only- If you’ve separated your school tasks and lifestyle demands into separate calendars, start by using just one. If a paper calendar doesn’t provide enough room, use your cell phone calendar, a PDA device or an actual agenda book. This will allow you to see your FULL day and make better decisions.You can always color code by using a highlighter to highlight only the school projects or by using two different colors to differentiate school from non-school activities.
2. Prioritize-Aside from your school work and exams, what in your life is most important? You might want to take 5 minutes and list the various elements that make up your life such as God, family, friends, gym workouts, etc. What are your goals? Really think hard about how much time you’d like to realistically dedicate to each. Perhaps you’d love to spend each Saturday with your girlfriends but it’s just not feasible. Instead, maybe you can meet your girlfriends for 2-3 hours every other Saturday for example. Do this with each. This will help you plan out when and how each will fit into your schedule.

3. Timing is Everything- You had mentioned wanting to make more time someone important in your life-God. This is an area where many people struggle. Sometimes our best intentions to make more time for our creator get filled up instead with other pressing matters like a Father’s day event, a friend’s birthday or perhaps studying for exams and working on assignments as their deadlines are very urgent. I would encourage you to think about which time of day offers you 10 minutes or more of quiet time and peace so you can make time to be alone with God on a consistent basis.

For me, it is first thing in the morning. I make it a point to try to read my bible every morning or if I’m really pressed for time one morning, at the very least I can pray with no distractions. Be sure to keep your bible on your nightstand so you see it when you wake up or before you go to sleep. Of course there are other times throughout my day that I like to pray while I'm working, while I’m driving, or before a meal, but I find early morning to be a great time of solitude. My mind is most free from distractions, worries and thoughts and I am more fresh in the morning. It’s a great way to start my day too on a positive and joyful note! Early morning may be another opportune time for a workout session too for those reasons.

4. Backwards Planning-One great tool I use to plan most of my major deadlines or even something as simple as the mailing of a Mother’s day card is to count backwards from the due date. This can work for your school projects but also in your personal life. It especially works well when planning out finances too. You can create mini milestones for the various smaller aspects of the greater picture. For example, I am using this tool as I finish writing and editing my upcoming book and its many components and deadlines so I can stay on track. This strategy is great because it will help you experience less stress because you won't rush to have things completed and it provides you with more control over your life.

5. Plan Your Meals-Since we eat three or more meals a day, it’s a great idea to plan out meals as much as possible. Be sure to find some easy recipes online that you can whip up in 15 minutes or less. Find a few that you can rely on when you’re pressed for time and be more willing to explore new recipes only on days that you can afford the time. Planning your meals and snacks will also save you money and they are far better for your health than most cafeteria type food or fast food.

6. Hitting the Gym-As mentioned earlier, workouts might be easiest for you in the morning however, only you can determine that. Perhaps the evening works better with your schedule. Once you are working and have graduated your daily schedule will be less chaotic so know that the current challenges may become easier for you in the near future. In the mean time, even just a 30-minute circuit training workout can provide you with the results you’re looking for if you’re able to perform it 3+ times per week. Ask yourself if you can eliminate something else that you currently do now for that amount of time to contribute to your best health. For me personally, I work out whenever it fits into my day best, some days that is morning and some days it's evening. Overall, I prefer to work out in the evening around 8pm when most people are not there.

7. Alternate Weeks-If you’re schedule is so jam packed that regular workouts or spending time with family or friends just doesn’t seem feasible, you may want to alternate weeks. For regular activities that you like to do such as sports, girl’s night,workouts etc., you might want to do one week on and one week off. This way you’re still getting the benefits every other week but you don’t have to feel conflicted when you can’t schedule everything into a single week.

8. Trial and Error- To some degree, creating a really effective schedule is a bit of trial and error. We don’t always realize how long certain tasks will take at first and may need to adjust the time allocated. Likewise, you may stop doing something you once did or may pick up something new. Be willing to try different ideas or do tasks on different days. For example Thursday-Sunday are the busiest days for grocery shopping so try to do yours between Mon-Wed so you’ll spend less time in the store. Equip yourself ahead of time with a list to save even more time. Find out what time your gym is the most quiet and see if that works with your schedule. I learned that for me to perform best, I need to limit my time online. Now, I only check e-mail twice per day-once in the morning and once in the evening. I also limit my time to write for my blog to a set  late evening hour after I've worked on my design projects and book writing during the day. Sometimes you have to be a little bit strict with yourself to accomplish what you truly desire. Always remember to keep the longterm goal/gain in mind even when the short term one seems much more appealing.

It's also important to remember that your friends and family understand that College is both physically and emotionally demanding. Nobody expects perfection or for you to be a superwoman. Just do your best to make the most of each day, that’s really all you can do. Don't forget to make time for YOU. Make sure to take some time out to do the things you really love so you'll feel inspired, even something as simple as a bubble bath can rejuvenate you for the next day.

Nathaly, I hope you'll find these points beneficial, they are the very secrets I use. Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing!

Have a blessed week,


Just a reminder to anyone else who has a question that they'd like to see answered in the form of a reader request, you can e-mail me by clicking the large envelope in the sidebar. You can choose share your name or remain anonymous. My goal is that by sharing both your questions and my answers, I hope to help you as well as many other women readers with a similar scenario.

To read previous reader requests, simply type those word into the search box in my side bar.

I look forward to reading your e-mails soon!

1 comment :

  1. That is a great post. I was a wedding planner and had time management mastered for my clients and their needs and always used #4...but alas for myself, I am the worst time manager. Great tips. Loving your follower!



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