Your best friends are throwing the party of the year at the fraternity down the street, but you have a physics test tomorrow and the only thing you know about gravity is how your GPA will hit the floor if you flunk it. Do you go to the party, or do you shut the windows and get down with Newton and Einstein? Making the right decision on a case-by-case basis is the perpetual challenge of college life, but what we may not always realize is how this challenge continues to follow us into our adult careers. Now replace your friends, the party, and college with your family, a day of golf, and your IT project, and you see how fast the problem reappears. Nick Nielson collects in a blog post for PM Hut tips on how to manage time from some of America’s top universities.
Cornell University provides a short guide at their website regarding time management, some highlights of which include recommending that you know your values, pick which activities are really worth your time, focus on outcomes, be frugal with spending, and remember to allot yourself some “down time” so you do not go nuts. Nielson considers this a good guide for people who perceive time abstractly. Stanford University by comparison offers tips more suited for people who prefer to be highly organized, giving ten succinct tips that are all about how to structure the work you do. These tips include things such as “Write everything down” and “Consolidate your planning time.”
Duke University attempts to break down planning on a larger scale by providing a long-term regimen to tackle tasks big and small. Thoughtful calendar planning is the crux of their method, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how obsessively you follow it. For a change of pace, the University of Chicago has a handy anagram for us:
We all know businesses love acronyms. And here’s a beauty of an acronym from one of the most prominent business schools in the country: SMART TIPS. Simple enough to remember, SMART TIPS offer a great ROI for your brain. Broken down, this method stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, Take a break, Invigorate yourself, Plan your study space and Set your priorities. OK, so the last few initials might be a bit of stretch as far as acronyms go, but the message rings true: Know your abilities and limitations, and then plan accordingly. Varsity Tip: Make tough decisions and stick by them. It’s better to move forward and learn from experience (and failure) than to languish in indecision.
In all cases, universities recommend that you take time to cool down and reward yourself for your work. In the business world especially, as projects change and the pressures mount, you owe it to yourself to pat yourself on the back for everything you have achieved so far. There will always be more projects and more deadlines, but as long as you can still carve out some time for fun, you will be just fine.