Effectively working with time is a problem many people have today in the professional and personal spheres of their lives. There is no universal manual that will suit each person for all occasions. Nonetheless, it’s good to try out some time-proven methods that can help you continually plan and currently manage your time, including reflections on how long things took.
Setting goals and tasks
Learning plans can serve to establish goals and larger tasks. However, it’s better not to rely only on paper, which is easily lost, and dates written on it won’t be sending you any notifications. It’s good to transform goals into tasks and enter them into a tool that we can learn to come back to often. This can be a systematic Google sheet, a personal project in Trello, or systematic notes in Google Keep. Smaller, specific tasks that can be fulfilled over the course of several hours must stem from larger, more long-term goals and tasks. An example of a greater goal that all of you share and one that needs to be systematically prepared for are your leaving exams – you’re preparing for examinations in several subjects that are various in form, and on top of that you might be creating tasks for your graduation portfolio.
- Social Sciences,
LEAVING EXAMINATION IN FRENCH:
- 10 topic areas for an oral exam,
- an essay,
- spoken presentation for your graduation portfolio.
Probably the simplest way to work with tasks is a to-do list – a simple list of tasks that a person needs to fulfill. To-dos aren’t primarily interested in careful planning, dividing up time or effectiveness. They only collect tasks and allows for them to be fulfilled in a well-arranged manner. A list like this is primarily useful when you need to structure your tasks – a large task can be divided into multiple smaller ones. Then you can put these tasks into a time frame.
FRENCH LEAVING EXAMINATION– Wednesday:
- learn La Famille vocabulary in Quizlet,
- record a minute-long video where I’m talking about my exchange program stay,
- insert video into your portfolio in Wordpress.
GTD (Getting Things Done) is an advanced technique that builds off the idea that all tasks can be carefully divided into compartments, and a person can draw individual tasks from them without having to think all day long about everything he or she needs to do. We can learn more about this technique on the website Getting Things Done by David Allen.
It’s recommended to assign yourself individual tasks as small components that can be fulfilled over a short period of time. The point of this method lies in its entertaining and playful way of crossing off what’s been finished. Don’t be afraid to divide up a larger whole into multiple parts and enjoy the way you’re progressing. People find it easier to get motivated for a certain activity even if they’ve only reserved a short amount of time for it when they know they can fulfill something on their list. In this respect, to-do lists can also help improve productivity.
For example, the following tools can be used:
Timeboxing is a methodologically simple method compared to many other different time-management methods. It doesn’t require any training or systematic preparation. It can be used just as well for a single school day as it can for work organization over the whole course of your life.
In Timeboxing, you divide up the day or parts of it into certain time windows (boxes) during which you’ll devote your time to a specific activity. You thus plan ahead on roughly how much time you’ll need for each box and establish a clear plan to proceed accordingly.
French – Wednesday:
- 15:00 – 15:30 – vocab from La Famille Quizlet,
- 15:35 – 16:20 – prep text for video,
- 16:30 – 17:30 – video recording and editing,
- 17:45 – 18:00 – embed video into portfolio with commentary
The effectiveness of the method relies solely on a good estimation of time. If you estimate the time to be much longer than it should be, this is a highly ineffective method; in the opposite case (when estimating less), it leads to stress and unfinished work. It’s good to plan everything with a bit of leeway.
Even if one of the outcomes of using these methods is learning to estimate your time better or having a better idea of how many minutes a certain task takes you, it’s still a very valuable benefit. In addition to poorly estimating time, however, it can also be a problem when other events interrupt the defined time box – telephone calls, colleagues, etc., which cannot be predicted or postponed until later. More tips can be found on a website like Mindtools.
You can use the following tools for timeboxing:
The Pomodoro method functions on similar principles but has more firmly-set rules. Pomodoro divides up your whole work time into 25-minute blocks. These intervals are long enough to do something intensively without needing to take a break, which comes after each block and is five minutes long. There are more ways to use your break, but we definitely recommend exercise or an activity that is fundamentally different from what we do normally. The brain can switch contexts, the eyes can relax, and you can do some quick stretching.
What should we measure time with? A normal timer and a paper or online list with a schedule of blocks is enough. Online tools that can implement the whole method are also suitable:
Timeboxing and Pomodoro are planning methods, but it’s also important to follow how these plans have been fulfilled. This is the purpose of time tracking, which is based on a simple principle – at any given moment, you’re always doing just one thing while timing it and recording how much time you’ve devoted to it.
This method is useful in that it forces you to truly work on the task that you’ve been assigned. By tracking only pure time, you are motivated not to interrupt the activity and you can also set clear plans on how much time you’ll devote to the given task. If you’re studying the whole day long but jumping from one task to the other and dividing your time up between various activities, the pure amount of time spent productively is in fact quite short. By trying out time tracking, you’ll find how little time you devote to real activity.
- French – Wednesday – 3 hours,
- French – February – 15 hours,
- French – half-year – 65 hours.
The second positive trait is being able to tie this in with timesheets or work output reports if you’re in an internship or a part-time job that’s paid by the hour. The other positive factors include simplicity and the opportunity to reflect on your activities – every day or week, you can look at what you’ve spent your time on and whether it corresponds to your idea of work productivity.
For example, Toggl can be recommended for monitoring time.