Benefits of Using a Planner

By: Stephanie

Often times, we find ourselves overwhelmed in the pile of work we’ve accumulated over the day, week, or more! We either have meetings to plan, practices to go to, or exams to prepare for. I am here to give you reasons as to why you should use a planner.

If You Write It, You Won’t Forget It
Many people I talk to, surprisingly, do NOT use a planner. Shocker statement, yes. They’ve told me they have their brain to retain information as well as “remember” these events as they come. However, I know that is absolutely not the case for everyone.

Some of us don’t have the best memory, in fact, “within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of fifty percent of the information you presented” (source). We are so busy with our work, we tend to forget what we just said! However, writing it down will help remind you what tasks you need to have completed before the end of the day. You won’t have to use your brain space to remember these that you need to complete and forgetting might be a big yikes in the future.

Text: Benefits of using a planner
Image: planners stacked on white background

Priorities, priorities, priorities!
Once you’ve viewed all of your tasks, you’re at least not panicking about what you may have forgotten to do! Now you can organize what needs to be done first. Organizing your to-do list will help you with time management and finish your work efficiently. Start with the deadlines. If something is due three weeks from now versus the next day, starting with the closer due date makes much more sense than starting a project that is due later. 

Health Benefits
Having a planner is a stress reliever. When I look at my planner, I know that I feel less stressed because I know exactly what needs to be done. I also use my planner for work because my schedule is not always consistent and meetings are very frequent. Keeping a planner will help you because it is a stress reliever that will keep you mentally healthy.

Procrastinating… I think not!
Most of us have good habits but a bad habit that some of us may have is procrastination. Planners keep you from procrastinating! After looking at your planner, you might have so much to do that, there’s no time to put it off. So, make it a good habit to use your planner and stomp your bad habit of procrastinating. The more work you finish before bed, the more sleep you’ll get!

Develop A Skill
Using a planner can help you develop many helpful skills that are beneficial for you. You will stay more organized and on top of your game from planning what you have to do. Another skill you’ll slowly develop is time management. Because you will be prioritizing your tasks and work that needs to be completed, using your time wisely is very critical. Lastly, you’ll develop strategic planning. Prioritizing your tasks and finishing things when they need to get done will maximize your productivity and help keep you healthy. You will be able to fit more activities in your schedule and even get that exercise that you’ve been putting off since New Year’s!

Links to favorite planners: Bullet Journaling; Planners

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Stephanie’s other posts

Tips for Time Management

By: Kendra

In starting my second year here at UMD, I have found myself having to make some changes from how I lived out my first two semesters here. Specifically, I have had to put more thought and effort into managing my time. During my first year at UMD, I took only 15 credits per semester and I took them all in-person. Also, I worked only about 10 hours per week. I was involved in intramurals, psychology club, and dedicated to working out, which has all remained. This year, though, I am taking 18 credits, 12 of which are online, and working 20-25 hours per week. Because of this increase in coursework and time spent working, I needed to add and change some of my previous habits in order to better manage my time. I’m sharing my tips with you for how I make sure I get everything done when it is supposed to be done: 

Prioritize Sleep
If you’re anything like me, getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL. I cannot function productively on less than eight hours of sleep each night and I strive to get nine. Of course, I want to stay up late watching movies, spending time with my friends, or catching up on my favorite Netflix series, but I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, my productivity the next day will plummet. So how do I do it? I give myself a bedtime. If I know I need to be awake tomorrow morning at 8 AM, I make sure I am in bed with my phone and computer powered off by 11 PM the night before. I am the type of person who needs a while to unwind before falling asleep, so I try to be in bed even earlier so I can watch a show or read for awhile and still get my 9 hours of sleep. This helps me wake up and feel energized to tackle my day.

Text: Tips for Time Management
Image: hour glass with blue sand on a rock beach

Use a Planner
By now, I am sure everyone has heard someone tell them they should really use a planner. I know it sounds cheesy, but believe me, it is so necessary. At the beginning of this semester, I spent hours looking through my class syllabi and writing due dates in my planner. I write every single assignment, project, quiz, and exam due date in my planner, which really helps me plan out my weeks. Then, on Sunday nights, I look at the assignments I have due during the upcoming week and make to-do lists for each day of the week. I like to make a list for each day of the week because it helps me balance the amount of schoolwork I do each day. I find that when I don’t do this, I procrastinate and push tasks to the next day and then I grow frustrated and stressed because I have more to do. I use Post-It notes for my to-dos and then I just stick them in my planner. When I finish an assignment, I cross it off on my to-do list as well as in my actual planner. Let me tell you — this is the best feeling ever. 

Use Google Calendar
Another resource I use when it comes to planning is Google Calendar. I have found that this is pretty hit or miss — some students use it and rely on it completely and others have never even opened it. Because Google is what our campus uses to communicate, I highly suggest using Google Calendar. If you need to meet with a professor, all you need to do is type in their name and you can see when they are busy. This can be done with students, advisors, and anyone on campus, too. For me, Google Calendar helps me plan my days. I have two calendars I use — one visible for everyone and one only I can see. I use my visible calendar for things I don’t mind people seeing such as my work schedule, class schedules, and when I have meetings and such. My other calendar, though, is what I use for my personal life. I schedule when I am going to the gym, time with friends, and really anything I am doing outside of school. What is amazing about Google Calendar is that I can have my work/class schedule visible to everyone and my personal schedule private, but one of my professors will still see everything I have going on if he or she were to look at my calendar. This is because Google just writes ‘Busy’ on time slots that are scheduled privately. Each week, when I am making my to-do lists, I check my calendar to see what I have going on each day, which helps me make realistic to-do lists for each day. 

Stay on Campus
This is definitely something that is much different than last year, as I was always on campus. Now that I live off campus, I have learned that in order to be as productive as possible, I need to stay on campus as much as I can. When I go home, I find myself getting cozy and then not wanting to come back to campus or getting anything done at home. This also requires planning, though. If you have breaks in your days, try your best to stay on campus so you can get some work done. Packing a lunch is also a great way to make sure you are not tempted to go back home throughout your day. Want to get a workout in? Either pack the things you need for the gym and go when your day is done or consider getting a locker in the locker room so you can leave your gym essentials on campus. By staying on campus as much as possible, I find myself accomplishing more and being more productive. It also makes going home at the end of the day super awesome because I typically am done for the day when I get home. 

Take Breaks
This is my final tip for being productive and managing your time. Taking breaks while you are studying or working on assignments is extremely important. Whether it be watching a short Youtube video, getting up and walking around, or just spending a few minutes on your phone, taking breaks will help you be even more efficient because it will keep you from burning out. I like to work for 45 minutes and then take 10-15 minutes to let my brain relax. Sometimes, though, I will take a little break after I finish an assignment to regroup before moving on to the next task. For me, this pushes me to work hard on homework because I know I can rest once I finish or once the time is up. It also helps keep me awake because I don’t allow myself to just sit and work for hours and hours on end. 

The life of a college student is busy — there’s no getting around that. That’s why it is so important to manage your time and make sure you are using it wisely. I had to alter my time management skills from last year to better accommodate to my life this semester. Ultimately, it is up to you to find time management strategies that work for you, but hopefully some of my tips are helpful. 

Best, Kendra 

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with resources & articles

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Aron Visuals

A Reality Check on Time Management, Part 2

By: David

If you could recall, I wrote a blog post (A Reality Check on Time Management) last month concerning time management techniques and tips. After finishing that post and rewatching the video a couple times, I managed to apply some of the techniques into my daily life. Today’s post will be highlighting the results and outcomes of some of the tips and tricks that was mentioned in the video. I’m still not the best at time management, but hey, at least I’m better than I was last month.

So here’s a refresher of the 10 techniques to effective time management:

  1. Carry a schedule to record your thoughts, conversations, and activities
  2. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it.
  3. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities, and conversations that produce most of your results.
  4. Schedule time for interruptions.
  5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day.
  6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain.
  7. Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you HAVE to get work done.
  8. Practice NOT answering your phone/texts and replying to e-mails.
  9. Block out other distractions like social media.
  10. Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done.

Within a month, I was not able to perfect all ten, but I am still currently working on it, but out of all ten, I’ve manage to incorporate 2,4,8, and 9 into my daily schedule to better manage my time.

To jumpstart, I’ll be talking about 2 and 4 while saving 8 and 9 for later. Before I ran across the video, I had never assigned time to anything that was important to me. I mean, I would have small time blocks set off for things I needed to do, but nothing fancy like assigning time to important matters. You see, there’s a difference between “assigning time” and “setting time blocks”. The difference is that when you assign time, you are more inclined to get things done and be more productive, but when you set “time blocks” you are only setting free time with yourself which can lead to many distractions during this time. This correlates to number 4 because you always have to be prepared to have interruptions (or distractions) throughout your day. Though you may have time assigned to certain tasks or conversations, you’ll for sure have things that will distract or interrupt you during the process. Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve applied these two concepts to my daily schedules and it’s been quite effective. By having time assigned to important tasks and duties and preparing for interruptions, I’ve been able to really prioritize what I need to do and keep me in check. For example, lately I’ve been thinking about what to do after graduation, and so by assigning 30 minutes – 1 hour to talk to my advisors and faculty, it’s really help me have a general idea what I might want to do upon finishing my degree. In addition, as an executive board member for Asian Pacific American Association, I’ve had to assign office hours for myself to get things done for the organization.

The biggest distraction that all of us students have is checking our social media and emails. At first, it was quite difficult to not check and reply to my emails and texts. The urge to reply instantly is a common thing for our generation. In order to rid this urge, I closed all extraneous tabs that I didn’t need so that I could fully focus on my work. Another thing I did was to silence my phone. The notifications I receive for Facebook, Snapchat, and text messages was a huge distraction and would always stray me away from my work. So by doing this, it really helped me block out all forms of distractions and interruptions like email and social media.

Overall, I am still polishing my time management skills in order to effectively get my work done. For me, there is never enough time to accomplish everything in a course of a day and I’m sure it’s the same for everyone as well. Through time, I’ll continue to work on these time management techniques to eventually master the art of time managing, but until then the art of procrastination still holds strong. Thanks for tuning in for this week’s blog post, folks. Be safe, fun, and carefree as you enjoy Spring Break! Stay gold folks!

Read David’s other posts

A Reality Check on Time Management

By: David

After watching this video, How to Manage Time With 10 Tips That Work , on entrepreneur.com it drastically changed how I perceive time management now. In the beginning of the video, it states the difference between “clock time” and “real time” which really opened my eyes to why certain gadgets and books never work. The biggest point made in the video is that real time is a mental thing and is definitely manageable because as it says in the video, “anything you create, you can manage”.

The video suggests 10 different techniques that doesn’t polish “clock” time management, but rather it focuses on sharpening our “real” time management. Here are the 10 techniques according to the video:

  1. Carry a schedule to record your thoughts, conversations, and activities
  2. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it.
  3. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities, and conversations that produce most of your results.
  4. Schedule time for interruptions.
  5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day.
  6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain.
  7. Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you HAVE to get work done.
  8. Practice NOT answering your phone/texts and replying to e-mails.
  9. Block out other distractions like social media.
  10. Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done.

Of course, even with this list of tips it’s impossible to implement every single tip within a single day. It’ll take time to actually master the art of time management, “real” time management at least. With such a busy schedule this semester, I’ve vowed to myself that I’d improve my time management skills and was fortunate to run into this article/video. I will get back to you readers on how effective these tips actually are. Stick around and I shall update you all in the near future. Have a great semester and stay gold folks!

Read David’s other posts

Deadlines in the Career World

By: Michael

Many of you reading this might still be finishing up classes or your degree and still have homework and assignments to submit. I had never experienced how critical deadlines can be in a corporate work environment until my internship. I started in January having somewhat of an understanding of what would be expected of me, but it wasn’t until this past weekend when I was wrapping up my returns for the March 17th corporate deadline that I realized how crucial it is to complete all of your work on time. I realized that working in a field such as public accounting, you are eventually expected to occasionally work 60+ hour weeks. My most important piece of advice to you all thus far is this: Take advantage of your school requirements as practice and as a challenge to yourself to be prepared to meet those expectations in whatever field you go into.

Deadlines

During school, I was just as prone as anyone to procrastinating, or submitting assignments at the last minute, but I have learned quickly just how stressful that can be in a work environment. Completing your work in an efficient and timely way and practicing now will save you lots of stress in the future. I know I might be preaching to the choir, but I’ve heard so many people I’ve interacted with during my time at school say things like “I have plenty of time” or “I’ll do it tomorrow, it’s not that important.” I’ve learned that starting your assignments as soon as you have all the information you need to begin them is the best way to go. I started thinking the other day about how this pans out in other careers. Take journalism for example. You have deadlines to meet that could prove to hurt the business if you don’t follow through as an employee, and as a student with that mentality, the ‘business’ that you’re affecting is yourself. I know it’s easier to comply with this idea when you’re working and getting paid, rather than paying for classes, but remember you’re investing in yourself and your personal and professional development.

According to an article on psychology.about.com there are 4 reasons why students procrastinate and struggle meeting their deadlines:

  1. Overestimate how much time they have left to perform tasks
  2. Overestimate how motivated they will be in the future
  3. Underestimate how long certain activities will take to complete
  4. Mistakenly assume that they need to be in the right frame of mind to work on a project

Perhaps knowing these common thought processes that go through the minds of many student, it will help you to be more proactive and better prepare you for the future.

Read Michael’s other posts

Success After Breakfast

By: Taylor

Last school year I wrote about what the most successful people do before breakfast. I had read a book by Laura Vanderkam that spoke thoroughly on the topic and found it to be quite inspiring. There are many keys in making your entire day productive that start bright and early. A quick revisit of my previous blog posts would remind you to exercise, review your schedule, and allot time for personal and professional growth. So what do these successful people do after breakfast?

Before or after breakfast, an important organization method is to create a “to-do” list. Making a clear list of things you need to do throughout the day will make it easy to prioritize the big items and the small ones. Instead of preoccupying your mind with these tasks, seeing them on paper will help you to think clearly.

Upon getting to work on time (due to your time well spent before dawn), there are a variety of things you can do to have a high-functioning day. By creating a morning routine at the office you will have a consistent method of being productive. For some of the most successful, they begin by touching base with their boss or employees. If the people around you at the office aren’t productive, you won’t be either. Making sure your goals are aligned and are all working toward the same initiatives could take you a long way. Other business leaders take time to themselves to catch up on emails and other messages. Setting aside time to do this is important. If you do this throughout the day like in between meetings, may interrupt your workflow and productivity. Also, Remember that if you start your day off right, it will be your most productive time. Use it to tackle big projects or to hold your most important meetings.

A study published in an American Psychological Association Journal, Emotion, stated that early birds feel healthier and happier than night owls. Begin each day at your best!

Read Taylor’s other posts

Mastering Time Management

By: Ashley

Each and every one of us has had that moment where we have had to decide if we are going to study, sleep, or go out with friends. Of course then when you throw work and actually going to class in the mix it seems like there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything you want, am I right? Well I was reading a blog post that Lauren Kirkpatrick, whose posts are as helpful as they are hilarious, on youtern.com  about how time management can essentially be mastered, if done right. In just 5 steps Lauren makes time management seem easy but it does take commitment. The 5 steps listed in her blog post are:

  • Use a calendar
  • Make to do lists
  • Multi-task
  • Overestimate time
  • Plan time to relax

So I know that at least half of all college students use a calendar, and whether that be an electronic one like Google calendar or a planner bought at the school store. But honestly, how many of us actually remember to write in it? I see people with planners that they bought with the best intentions of filling and then when they open them and I see them, there is little to nothing except maybe a few birthdays written in them, and I will be the first to admit that I have done this in the past, especially my freshman year. I do however use one now, and in this day and age using Google calendar and syncing it to your iPhone or smartphone is easier than ever. Every UMD student has a Gmail account through the university which means you have access to your very own Google calendar, you can even color code things and set reminders, exciting right?

Now having a to do list is something that I have always found to be beneficial in getting things done. Having everything you need to do right in front of you can be just the motivation you need to get up and get stuff done. I’ll be the first to admit that I even add things that I have already done just so I can check things off. Lauren says to add things that are as basic as eating lunch, because checking things off makes you feel good, makes you feel productive, and it is those basic things that make multi-tasking easier. I mean if you can eat your PB & J and read your biology textbook at the same time why not kill two birds with one stone.

My favorite of Lauren’s 5 ways to manage time is the overestimating how long it takes to get something done, that way you aren’t interfering with the time you have allotted to other things and when you have extra time to spare to relax and maybe take a mental breather. Lastly, I love the idea of planning time to relax, because then you have to do it! If you are anything like me you can’t rest until you have gotten everything done and if relaxing is one of those things you have to check off you are more likely to it!

So with a little commitment and effort, you too can have it all, sleep, a social life, and the grades. I feel that all of these tips will 100% show results, you will be surprised by how some free time might just magically appear if you plan out what you need to do and then magically get it all done.

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