We are all guilty of procrastination but being responsible and meeting deadlines doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal and social life. You will be surprised at how much proper time management actually improves the quality of your free time and your sleep as well.
The best way to prioritise is to look at your upcoming deadlines and start with the most urgent. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. What happens when two or more projects are due on the same day? In this case, you need to find ways to categorise your tasks. Perhaps you have two assignments that are somehow linked – you can save yourself time by using any research you’ve done and applying it to both subjects. Think about which assignment you feel more confident with, as it’s likely it will take you less time to complete, so it might be wise to start with that. Ultimately, you need to determine what works best for you and use your logic as much as you can.
Consider all factors
You have created a revision plan, and have been great at sticking to it. However, plans need to be flexible to accommodate delays which may occur due to factors beyond your control. Perhaps you have the flu and can’t work for a couple of days. Or perhaps part of your project depends on other people or external factors, such as costs, transportation time, or even the weather. These are all things that you can’t control, but need to carefully consider when creating your schedule. If you build an element of flexibility in to your plans, you will be able to be flexible enough to deal with any issues that may arise, without them compromising your results.
Learn to say no
It can be very hard to avoid taking on extra projects while you are still trying to establish yourself as a worthy employee. If you are absolutely certain you can handle the workload, then by all means, do it. But if you start looking for extra hours in the day, and coffee becomes your new best friend, you may need to stop saying ‘yes’ all the time. In fact, you might even have to postpone projects that are not absolutely urgent, so you can pick them up at a later, quieter, time. Don’t fall into the trap of being a jack of all trades, but a master of none. You will inevitably end up handing in poorly done projects, and picking up the pieces will be much harder.
Feeling the pressure is natural and can sometimes even make you more productive. But it usually just makes you want to cry. Even if you do miss a deadline, it’s important that you remember it’s not the end of the world. Identify why you missed the deadline, think about what you can do to regain control of the situation and try your best to fix it as soon as you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take breaks, go running, meet with friends. All this will keep you from burning out, and will certainly make you more productive in the long run.
Being ahead of the game
Organisation and time-management is about showing that you can prioritise, work efficiently and productively, and manage your time well. It's also good to be able to show employers how you decide what is important to focus on and get done, and how you go about meeting deadlines. This article from Targetjobs.com explains how.
Time-management - VITAL magazine
This article from ICAEW student magazine VITAL provides top tips for getting control of your email inbox.