Hello! My name is Katherine Burdick and I’m the First Year College Advisor at UNLV. In my role, I’m here to assist high school students with whatever they need to succeed after high school. Whether that’s applying to college/university, or preparing for entering the workforce. As a first- generation college student, I understand the importance of having guidance as you enter the next phase of your life. When thinking about topics for this post, I tried to narrow down something that personally helped me succeed. In my undergraduate studies, I was a terrible procrastinator and had no idea how to manage my time. As I went through college, I slowly learned some methods that helped me work efficiently. During my graduate studies, I was also working full-time. I had to use all my time wisely, and by using a combination of time management techniques, I was able to successfully complete all my coursework and my degree.
So what is time management? Per dictionary.com, time management, “the analysis of how working hours are spent and the prioritization of tasks in order to maximize personal efficiency in the workplace” (Dictionary.com, n.d.). While this says “workplace”, time management is an important skill for completing school work or projects on time and minimizing stress associated with them. By using time management, we can come up with a game plan to complete the work efficiently and effectively. In doing research on this topic, I came across 3 common techniques that I think could work very well for many different people; The Pomodoro Technique, the time blocking method, and The Eat the Frog technique.
Starting with The Pomodoro Technique, this was created by entrepreneur and author Francesco Cirillo, named after the cooking timer shaped like a tomato (“The Pomodoro® Technique” n.d.). This technique uses a timer to break down your work into intervals- hence the name. To use this technique, you should choose one task out of all of them that needs to be completed. Using a timer (doesn’t have to be tomato shaped), set the time for 25 minutes and try to only focus on that chosen task. After the time runs out, set the time again but this time for 3-5 minutes and use this time to take a small break. You can get something to drink or eat a snack. After that’s done, you can reset the timer for 25 minutes and repeat as necessary to complete the task.
The second method, time blocking, is also the most visually appealing. The time blocking method is pretty self-explanatory- using a calendar of your choice, electronic or paper, you will assign each time block in your day to a task that needs to be accomplished (Griffin, 2021). These tasks can be anything from eating breakfast to studying for a test. This allows you to visually see your tasks and what needs to be accomplished. This is a good method for ensuring that you have balance and offers more flexibility for completing tasks since it’s spread out over a course of time of your preference (Griffin, 2021).
The last method is the Eat the Frog technique. This technique was created by Brian Tracy and is named after the following Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day” (Tracy, n.d.). This method basically means that you do the worst part or the most difficult parts first, and get it over with. This method is helpful because you tackle the biggest obstacle first, and then finish off by working on the easiest tasks first (Tracy, n.d.).
Although I introduced 3 methods to managing time, there is not a one size fits all approach. Different tasks or projects may require different techniques. As you also grow and begin to understand what works for you, you might also see a change in style. You don’t have to choose a technique right now. If you’re unsure of what is going to work for you, try tracking your daily schedule and see where your time is going. Are you using your time productively? Are you completing your tasks on time? If you’re finding that the method you chose isn’t helping you do that, then you might need to reconsider your method and try something new.
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Time Management Definition & meaning. Dictionary.com. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/time-management
Griffin, T. (2021, September 15). https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/09/15/three-ways-to-use-time-blocking-for-better-time-management/?sh=682a917537f9. Forbes. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/09/15/three-ways-to-use-time-blocking-for-better-time-management/?sh=682a917537f9.
The Pomodoro® Technique. Cirillo Company. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique
Tracy , B. (n.d.). https://www.briantracy.com/blog/time-management/the-truth-about-frogs/. Todoist. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/eat-the-frog