Juggling four courses a semester with a part-time job, time with friends, hobbies and family visits on top of budgeting for food, personal expenses, and bills really teaches you something about real life. But when it’s time to kick into gear for full-on autonomous living, how can you really be ready?
Setting long term goals, then short term objectives to reach them, is a good start. Here are some day-to-day basics to help you get on the right track:
1. Use an organizational system (that works for you)
Organizers, planners and calendar phone apps are great tools to use for keeping your responsibilities in order. Even with fancy smart phone reminder apps and alarms, it still takes effort on your part to set it up.
Block off 30 minutes in the evening to fill in your calendar with tasks for the next day, and set up several email and push notifications to keep you in check. Not tech-savvy? A good ole fashioned day planner works as good as any new-age system. Just don’t forget to check it!
2. Set aside time to prioritize
Organization takes time. Time to build your schedule, and time to adjust your habits to a set time-clock. Dedicating a few minutes in the morning to prepare will leave you feeling more confident and productive.
Sitting down for breakfast is a great time to clear your mind and make some plans. Start by creating a to-do list for the day and then numbering each task based on priority. Then create deadlines for tasks high on the list while pushing down things that can wait.
It’s also important to leave some room for breaks or interruptions in order to be realistic about spending time wisely. It may seem unnecessary, but factoring in slots for checking Facebook or calling a friend will help you feel more at ease about how you spend the rest of your precious time.
3. Stay dedicated
Above all, time management takes discipline. Finding the balance between flexibility and productivity takes practice, and may not happen right away. In the first few weeks of nailing down a schedule that works for you, begin logging your hours and review them at the end of the week. Ask yourself, “Did I get everything done that I wanted to, and if not, why?”
Looking back on what you’ve accomplished will give you an idea of what’s still left to do. Once you start taking your goals into consideration, you may realize you’re not being efficient enough with your time. Keep working at perfecting your routine, and you could get more done in one week than you have the whole past year!