Making the Most of Your Time

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Making the Most of Your Time

By BYUI Counseling Center

Once you have figured out how you spend most of your time, think about what are your most important activities.  Do you have enough time for them?  If you’re like most people, the answer is “no.”  So now let’s consider how to make the most of your time when it seems you just don’t have enough.


DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST.

Trying to be perfect sets you up for defeat because nobody can be totally perfect.  Perfectionists are afraid of failing, so they often avoid and procrastinate rather than attempting to do something.  Or they may spend so long trying to make it perfect that they either don’t finish everything they are supposed to do or they don’t have any down time.

It’s important to set challenging goals, but they should also be achievable.  Break difficult tasks into manageable chunks.  Remember that the only way to eat an elephant is one forkful at a time!

Don’t be afraid to fail–be willing to “endeavor!”  And then, accept your best effort as “good enough.”  Perfectionists also tend to have a lot of rules about how much they should be accomplishing and doing.  While you are in college, with a lot of your time focused in the “intellectual” area of development, there are limits on how much you can do in some of the areas.  Remember that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).


LEARN TO SAY NO.  

Suppose that you made social plans for tomorrow with your friends, and you set aside tonight to study and do laundry.  An acquaintance of yours asks you to see a movie with him/her tonight.  You’re not really interested.  Or maybe you are interested, but you don’t see how you can spare the time.  You want to say no, but you hate turning people down.  Politely saying “no” should become a habit.  Saying “no” frees up time for the things that are most important and helps you feel in control.


LEARN TO SET PRIORITIES.

It’s important to prioritize your responsibilities and commitments.  The key to accomplishing your priorities is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to first establish your priorities and then schedule your priorities.  Some people don’t know how to set priorities, and so they procrastinate important tasks and then panic when time gets short.

Using a “to-do list” places items in order of importance.  One way to prioritize is the ABC list.

ABC Priorities List
This list is divided into three sections.  Place items that need to be done today in the A section.  Items that need to be completed within the week go in the B section.  The C section is for items that need to be done within the month.  As the B and C items become more pertinent, they are bumped up to the A or B list.  You can try this or come up with your own method, but do something to set priorities.


USE TIME MORE EFFICIENTLY.

Combine several activities into one time slot.  For example, while walking to school and around campus, listen to recorded class notes or mentally review the important points from your classes.  This allows you more time in the day for good study review.  While you’re showering, make a mental list of the things that need to be done.  When you watch TV, accomplish tasks that don’t require much thought, such as shining your shoes or folding your laundry.  These are just examples of ways to make better use of your time.


AVOID THE PERILS OF PROCRASTINATION.  

About one-fifth of adults report the habit of routinely delaying tackling tasks that would lead to a more successful life.  Procrastination not only causes stress and self-doubt, but procrastinators are more likely to suffer physical symptoms and to visit the doctor more often.  The following ideas can help you to change your thinking so that you can overcome procrastination.

  • SERIOUS SELF-TALK.
    • On a piece of paper, create two columns.  In one, write your excuses for not getting started on something.  In the other, challenge these excuses with positive, realistic thoughts.
      • Excuse: “I don’t have enough time.”
      • Response: “The longer I wait, the less time I’ll have.  So I’ll never have more time than I have right now.
  • PUBLIC PROMISE.
    • Write a “contract” with yourself and sign it.  Better yet, share your goals with a friend, spouse, or co-worker.
  • SUCCESS SCENARIO.
    • If you worry about what others think, imagine responding to and surviving harsh criticism.
  • REWARD REMINDER.
    • Set an alarm on your phone or computer to sound off at regular intervals to remind you of the benefits of completing a task on time.

If you would like help with your time management skills, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or a counselor.

Top 10 Reasons for Procrastination (and Their Solutions)

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Top 10 Reasons for Procrastination

By BYUI Counseling Center

time(Adapted from “The Top 10 Reasons for Procrastination and How to Get Over Them,” by Louise Morganti Kaelin)

1.  Clouded vision.  (SOLUTION: Step back.)

It’s time to look at the forest.  What exactly are you trying to accomplish?  Sometimes we get so caught up in the detail that we forget where we’re going.

2.  The task is overwhelming.  (SOLUTION: Break it down.)

The bigger the task, the more we need to define the natural milestones within the task.  Want to lose 20 pounds?  Go for five pounds, four times!  Need to clean your room?  Break it down into North, South, East, and West.  Or divide it into tasks that can be done in a certain block of time (15 minutes, 2 hours, etc.).

3.  Fear of the end result.  (SOLUTION: Acknowledge the fear, then take the next step.)

Sometimes we’re afraid we’ll fail; sometimes we’re afraid we’ll succeed.  The outcome is the same:  fear of what will happen when we’re done scares us so much that we don’t work at it.

4.  The task is unpleasant or boring.  (SOLUTION: Focus on “why” you are doing it.)

You hate to clean, but you love living in graceful surroundings.  You hate to do laundry, but you love having clean clothes.  You hate to make phone calls, but you need the information on the other end of the line to make your project go faster or easier.  There are many tasks or chores that we don’t like to do but that are necessary to live the life we want to live.  Focus on the bigger picture.

5.  Indecision.  (SOLUTION: Remember, often there are no wrong choices.  So do something, anything.)

There are very few things that can’t be undone, or done again.  Can’t decide what color to paint, so you let your walls remain stained and grungy?  Pick three colors.  Start with the lightest.  If you don’t like it, go on to the next.

6.  You lack confidence.  (SOLUTION: Figure out if your lack of skill is real or imagined.)

If it’s real, find out where to gain the skills you need or find someone with the right skills who can help you.  If it’s imagined, look at #3-fear of the end result.

7.  Not enough time.  (SOLUTION: Break it down into steps that are doable in 5 to 15 minute chunks of time.)

This is related to #2–feeling overwhelmed, but has more to do with time than feeling overwhelmed.  Large, uninterrupted chunks of time are very hard to come by.  (And if we’re honest, when they do come, we’d rather do something fun!)  A good rule of thumb is “5 or 15”.  Either do 5 things (file 5 pieces of paper, fold 5 articles of clothing) or do something for 15 minutes.  You’d be surprised how much gets done that way, and without pain!

8.  Distractions.  (SOLUTION: Be honest with yourself, then get focused.)

Are you consciously inviting distractions so that you have a “good” reason not to get something done?  It’s a way we often sabotage ourselves.  Give yourself a gift of time to work on a project.  Don’t answer the phone or door for one hour.  If someone calls, ask the person if you can get back to them in an hour.  Take control of the situation.

9.  Not allowing adequate time  (SOLUTION: Figure out how long it will take, then double it, or better yet, triple it.)

When we envision a project in our minds, we see ourselves flying through it, on a straight and narrow path.  Because of that, we tend to vastly underestimate how long it will take-partly because we forget about Steps 1 through 8!  Eventually you’ll get better at this, but to begin with, start doubling how long you think it will take.  This will allow you to plan better and, perhaps, even complete a project without stress!

10.  Too many other projects.  (SOLUTION: Ask for help or establish priority.)

If you’ve got too much on your plate, speak up-either to your boss, your family, or to yourself.  What is the most important thing to do right now?  Focus on that.  Also, work on “Important” tasks, not just the “Urgent” ones!

What Type of Procrastinator are You?

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Do you find yourself procrastinating on projects?  Take a look at this helpful little flow chart developed by Joseph Ferrari, PhD on identifying different types of procrastinators and some helpful tips for each type of procrastinator.

Procrastinator

If you would like to talk to someone about dealing with your procrastination struggles, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.