Writing Madness Consolation Post #9 – Time Management!

We’ve completed our Writing Madness event for the month of March, but we still have a couple of tasks left to complete. The runner up and winning topics deserve some love. Today we have some tips and tricks for how to handle your time management so that you successfully meet deadlines, accomplish projects, and avoid stress. Read on for more!

by Alec

Although it was unsuccessful in its quest to win this years Writing Madness competition hosted by The Learning Hub, the topic of time management has proven itself once again to be a formidable problem for student writers… but why?

For student writers, time management serves two purposes. First, it allows them to meet deadlines. One of the most important skills to learn in college is the ability to meet deadlines for they are the foundation of American business culture. Deadlines serve a number of purposes in the “real world” after college because they ensure productivity, help to prioritize goals, and are a reliable metric for employers to measure success in the workplace. If students are unable to learn how to meet deadlines, then it will be difficult for future employers to take them seriously as an applicant. For the student writer, this means that time management will help them meet the deadlines for writing assignments set forth by the instructor. If it’s on the syllabus, a good time manager will ensure that the assignment is complete and turned in. This often has the added benefit of avoiding late penalties which unnecessarily lower grades.

The second purpose that time management serves for the student writer is that it gives them time to successfully complete the assignment. In college, it is not good enough to simply turn an assignment in on time if it has not properly met the assignment criteria. Proper time management includes knowing what needs to get done, how to get it done, and (most importantly) how to get it done on time. This means breaking larger projects into smaller, more manageable objectives that concludes with the final product that is turned in. Sometimes this work will be done by the professor and pre-built into the course through the use of project proposals, literature reviews, and drafting stages which each having their own deadlines. However, some professors will mention the project once, tell you about their office hours, and expect that you do all of the work by the end of the semester.

We at The Learning Hub felt it was appropriate to help you break this project, of improving your time management skills, into small pieces so that you can start taking steps to becoming a better manager of your time. Listed below are 5 steps you can take before the end of this semester to help get your time management under control!

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Get a Planner

The first step you should take for better time management is to obtain a planner. Most importantly, you should obtain a planner that you will actually use. There are many different types of planners to meet the needs of many different types of students, namely paper planners, bullet journals, and mobile device applications. Paper journals come in free printables online or as bound designer books and can be found in daily, weekly, or even monthly formats depending on your needs. Bullet journals are another good option because you can purchase a formatted one or create your own from a notebook or loose sheets of paper. Finally, there are a plethora of apps on numerous platforms that can help you manage your time more effectively on your smart device and they range from free or native apps, which often come built-in, or purchasable from $0.99 to $49.99 with added features.

Set Priorities

After you have obtained your planner it is important to think about what time-consumers are most important in your life. As a student it is common that classes, extracurricular activities, and personal activities will all be categories of time-consumers. List out what your priorities are. Items at the top of the list are what are most important to you while those at the bottom of the list are less so. This will require some compromising on your part as well as realism. While your underwater basket weaving hobby might be very important to you, is it worth skipping class for? No. This list will not only give perspective about how time should be spent, but will also help to make decisions when confronted with time conflicts in the future. This list doesn’t need to be all-encompassing at the beginning but should be something that evolves as time goes on.

Write in the Planner

Now that you know what is most important in your life you should start figuring out just how much time each of these priorities take. Ensure that you list the most pressing commitments including classes, meetings and important events first so that you know you will have time etched out for them. You will also need to know which activities have flexible or inflexible schedules. Classes, for example, are at a set time each week which cannot be changed. Homework, on the other hand, can be completed at your leisure as long as you meet the deadline. Once you have listed out your inflexible schedule then you can see more clearly where the flexible schedule items will fill in.

Make a List

Next, it is important to make a to-do list which contains all of your commitments, projects, and assignments. Analyze each item on the to-do list and identify if it needs to be broken into larger pieces. Once you have identified the larger projects, and have broken them down into smaller pieces then you can set deadlines for when those smaller objectives should be accomplished. It is important to plan time for the entire writing process, including drafting and revising. Plan time to meet with your instructor before the assignment is due or plan to make an appointment with The Learning Hub. This will help ensure that you are not only meeting the deadline but that you are meeting the assignment criteria as well.

Be Realistic

The most important part of time management is being realistic. All students are different and necessarily think about, and use, their time in different ways. Feel free to adjust any of these steps to be more effective for your personal situation. Also, ensure that you are planning time for yourself so that you can relax. You will not be productive if you work yourself into a nervous breakdown because you are working too hard. Finally, consider what times you are most productive. If you are not a morning person then you should not schedule homework time for the morning. Likewise, if you like to have weekends off… that’s okay! You simply have to ensure that you are completing tasks expected of you during the week so that you relax guilt-free. It is important that the tools that you choose are ones that you know you’ll enjoy using so that you can be effective in accomplishing your goals.

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If you have a question about how to manage your time more effectively, you can make an appointment with the Academic Skills Specialist at The Learning Hub. Additionally, if you have a few pressing writing projects, you can make an appointment to meet with a member of our writing staff.

Stay tuned for information to help you with the most frustrating writing issue students identified this semester: Getting Started. Coming soon!

PROcrastination

by Sidney

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Full disclosure: I agreed to make this blog post about procrastination over a week ago and it goes up tomorrow.  And…. I am just now starting it.  The master procrastinator right here.  Me and procrastination go way back. We are old friends.  In kindergarten  I threw an assignment sheet into the trash because I had waited too long to start it and it was stressing me out. Throwing it away didn’t make the assignment disappear, but it did make me feel better.

Sometimes you just get to the point where you’ve waited too long and there is no chance to fix it. If you’ve reached that point then let it go, and do better next time. Learn from your mistakes.  There are ways to overcome procrastination. Sometimes they work, sometimes you still find yourself in the mess I am in right now.  So, be kind to yourself. If you messed up, remember that you are only human and that the end of the world really isn’t at hand.

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 I certainly do not advocate throwing away homework assignments. However, I do advocate taking a deep breath and keeping things in perspective. If you’ve procrastinated then the assignment is due soon and your torment is nearing an end.  However, here are some things you can do to battle the procrastination demon.

START EARLY!!!

You will be so happy if you do. Starting something can be the hardest part. If you have a big test coming up, set aside even a small amount of time (15 minutes? That’s doable, right?) every day for studying. If you have a paper to write, get started as soon as it is assigned. Even if you just write an outline or do some brainstorming exercises, getting something (anything) on paper can be extremely helpful.

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RESPECT DEADLINES

A deadline is the procrastinator’s best friend. They can keep us on track if we let them. Don’t blow off deadlines, especially when you set them for yourself. That reinforces the idea that deadlines are unimportant and breakable. Trusting in your own follow through is important to developing confidence in your ability to be a productive person.

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LISTEN TO YOURSELF

If you are having anxiety over an upcoming deadline, listen to that anxiety. It is telling you to be productive. Don’t watch any more Netflix!!!

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REWARD YOURSELF

We all respond to positive reinforcement. Give yourself a break, eat a chip in between each page of reading, take a five minute Instagram break in between each chapter. Whatever floats your boat!

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Anyway, procrastination can be a lifelong struggle. There is no perfect formula for overcoming it. Trust me, I have tried. I take heart in telling myself that my tendency to procrastinate is a side effect of being a creative and sensitive person. This may be, but I am also capable of developing habits and skills that will help me work better and smarter. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

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Check out the academic skills page on The Learning Hub website for more tips and tricks for successful studenting. We have a workshop on Procrastination happening next month, so be there, and beat your bad writing habits!

Be a Successful College Student!

Liliana, our Academic Skills TA, has some resources for you to help make sure you are on the right track with your study skills and habits as the semester is continuing to move at the speed of light. Check them out below!


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Hi, my name is Liliana Vázquez Villagrán and I am a graduate student in the Human and Development Counseling program at UIS.  I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Education, from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City (UAM-X).  For the past 10 years, I have taught English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to children, adolescents, adults, and senior citizens in Mexico City.  I am very excited for the opportunity to work at the Learning Hub because this position will allow me to put into practice my passion for teaching. I can assure you that I will do my best to help you succeed in your academic goals.

Quote: “Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

Finals are Coming!

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In this video, our Academic Skills TA, Erin, walks you through how to best prepare for finals. How much have you studied? Do you feel prepared? Let us know in the comments!

Hello, my name is Erin Tomasino and I am a graduate student in the Human Development Counseling program here at UIS. My goal is to someday become a school counselor here in the Springfield area. I received my Undergraduate Degree from Eastern Illinois University in Psychology and Criminology. Some of my hobbies include spending time with family and friends, traveling, and going to concerts. I am very excited to be a part of The Learning Hub team and look forward to the opportunity to work with you to enhance your academic skills.

Quote: “Be the change you wish you to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi