"Do well in school." Surely many students have heard this admonition time and time again from parents, grandparents and teachers. Good grades are important, but there's another area that students would do well to strengthen time management. The focus is not just for school success, but also for success on the job. There are three key areas to achieve time management: attendance, balance and procrastination.
Attendance and punctuality
Attendance and punctuality might be the single most important issue for employers. Employees who miss work not only cost the employer in wages, but also in scheduling, training and lost productivity. If an employee misses too much work, it might not be worth the expense for the employer to keep him/her.
Attendance at school is just as important. According to research from Get Schooled, a national non-profit focused on improving graduation rates and school success, missing seven days of school decreases a student's likelihood of graduating by 9 percent. Missing 14 days decreases it by 27 percent.
Likewise, punctuality is just as important. Employees who are consistently late also cost the employer. If an employee is five minutes late one day a week, that adds up to more than four hours of missed work per year.
Prepare the night before - Pick out an outfit, pack a lunch and fill the car up with gas ahead of time. Rather than trying to print out a report the morning it's due and risk having the printer run out of paper/ink/toner, print the report out ahead of time.
Allow extra time - Murphy's Law states, "if something can go wrong, it will." This is never more true than when running late for an interview or an important meeting. Traffic jams, construction sites and slow-poke drivers all seem to come out of the woodwork when time is short. A good tip for those who have trouble getting up in the morning is to set two alarm clocks (one battery operated).
Always prepare for the worst and expect tasks to take longer. Allow extra time in daily schedules for unforeseen delays.
There are many reasons why students miss school and struggle with the workload. Adults don't realize the number of commitments that students have these days. Between sports, clubs, family responsibilities and other obligations, students often have little time left for school. This is not to make excuses, but rather pointing out this fact to students - it's not going to get easier. After school, work and life commitments will definitely increase. People find that employers, spouses, children, friends and others pull them in many directions.
Eliminate time-wasters - Video games, chat rooms, Facebook, friends who text all night long ... all these can very easily waste time. Students should recognize the things in their lives that waste time and keep them from getting the job done. If complete elimination is difficult, use these things as a reward for accomplishing a difficult task.
Know when to ask for help - Students who find they are struggling with an assignment or a task should ask for help. Both teachers and employers are more than willing to provide direction or assistance if needed and if asked.
Just say no - Obviously, this doesn't usually apply to schoolwork or job duties. However, there are times that everything cannot be accomplished within a 24-hour day. It might stink, but fun things may have to be sacrificed in order to get the important ones done.
Procrastination is probably one of the most common time management issues. Many people believe that they perform better under stress of an impending deadline. The truth, however, is that people tend to make more mistakes, fail to get the complete message across and produce sub-par results. Why procrastinate then? It could be any of a number of reasons. Perhaps the person is disorganized and the assignment got lost in the jumble of papers on his/her desk. Perhaps the task is dreadful, so it gets put off in exchange for doing simpler, more fun things instead.
Use a TO DO list - A good place to start when trying to organize time and manage tasks is to create a TO DO list. Write down everything that should be done for the day and week. As a task is completed, cross it off. The sight of a TO DO list with items crossed off can be very motivating.
Prioritize tasks - The next step in truly managing time is to use it effectively. That's where prioritization comes in. After tasks are written down, figure out which ones are the most important and which ones can be let go for now. One system for doing this is the A, B, C method. "A" items are the ones that need to be completed as soon as possible. "B" items are important, but not on a time crunch. "C" items are ones that would be nice to complete, but not necessary. Start on "A" and work through the list.
Get the difficult work done first - This goes along with prioritizing work. If a student has a paper to write or a test to study for, but he/she is dreading it, the student should do that task first. It's not going to get any more appealing the longer it remains on the list, and it's not going to go away.
One of the popular interviewing methods that employers use is called "motivational interviewing." The concept is that past behavior predicts future behavior. If a student tends to miss school, waits until the last minute to finish a task or forgets assignments due to lack of organization, chances are good that those habits will continue on the job. To do well in a professional career, work hard now to develop and practice skills that will lead toward success.