Vol 58 No. 1 : January, 2006
Vol 58 No. 1 | January, 2005
Time Management Can Improve Lives
What better time to get organized than January? Whether it’s organizing your school work, work load or just your own personal life, January seems to be a time when many take a personal inventory, followed by the best-intentioned plans to improve their lives.
Time management experts Diane Eisenberg and Pat Mulleavy of CSULB’s Learning Assistance Center (LAC) have some practical, yet often-ignored tips for helping individuals take control of their lives – well, at least their schedules.
As Mulleavy quickly pointed out, everyone gets the same number of hours every week – 168. That’s 168 hours for everyone, no matter who you are. The trick, according to Eisenberg and Mulleavy, is to get the most out of each and every one of those hours.
A majority of their advising is directed toward students who have to juggle work, family, friends and, ah yes, that thing called school. Therefore, good time management can sometimes be the difference between success and failure, as well as alleviating unneeded stress.
“I know everybody struggles with time management because when I go to the mall there is a Franklin Covey store where there’s nothing but to-do lists and calendars,” said Eisenberg, “and those people are making a living because everyone is trying to figure out how to do time management.”
According to Eisenberg, people generally fit a task into the amount of time they have. For example, if you have three weeks to prepare for something it will take three weeks. But if you have to do it by next week, well, somehow things get done. That is not the case for everyone, of course, but it is more the rule than the exception.
“How are you going to use your time and how are you going to break it up?” said Eisenberg. “That is the real question. We use the phrase ‘time management,’ but we really just want to be the masters of our time.”
Easier said than done. With a myriad of distractions, seeing an hour or two a day slip away is very easy. Multiply that times seven days in a week and you are talking about a considerable amount of time.
“I saw a study of more than 300 students and it showed them on the computer for 20 non-academic hours a week,” relayed Mulleavy, “and it was a direct correlation to poorer grades. As technology envelopes us all, I’m really finding out it’s becoming a distraction. What it boils down to is that it’s a matter of learning to prioritize.”
One of the things the LAC addresses are your goals. More specifically, what is it you want to achieve and then work backwards from your goal. You may first set a final goal, but then set intermediate goals and make them achievable. You need to make a timeline; it needs to be very specific; and, here’s the tricky part, you have to stick to it.
“Our goals are always changing so we have to be flexible,” said Eisenberg. “Put it on your calendar. Get a general calendar of what you want to get done. Then get a weekly sheet. At some point, however, you have to be honest and ask yourself, ‘what is keeping me from what I should be doing?’”
You would think television is the greatest distraction, and it might well have been at one time, but Eisenberg reiterates it is the non-academic computing time that seems to be the biggest culprit.
“We have students that seem to have become addicted to computer games,” she said, “as well as Web surfing and chatting.”
Eisenberg finds that many of her students have woken up in the middle of the night because they think they won’t remember to do something.
“I tell them if they write everything down on a 3x5 card, they can get a good night’s sleep,” she said, “because the card can be up all night for them.”
Even a card with a long list of things to get done can be a bit overwhelming, she admits, but if you just number them according to priority and then cross them off, soon you see that list begin to shrink and you feel a sense of achievement.
“If you break it down into small steps, then it’s not so daunting,” she said, “plus it’s good to write it down and even get someone you have to be accountable to. That way, you feel like you have to get it done because someone will be checking on you.”
Mulleavy noted that LAC is more than willing to make presentations to departments or classes on campus. The LAC offers time management classes and provides learning skills assistance to all students, staff and faculty. In addition, it also conducts off-campus workshops to such groups as high schools and the Long Beach Fire Department.
“One of our goals is to go to each department and set up a meeting to let them know what our services are and that we can come down and make a 15-20 minute presentation to their class,” he said. “We’re available this spring semester, so all they have to do is call us (562/985-5350) and make arrangements.”
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