While you can do your own research and get advice from the likes of Forbes or Purdue Global, I would like to tell you what works well for me, a Clifton Strengths Achiever. Hi, my name is Sunny and I am the blogger for ChickenStarRocket. This post is based on a final project I did for school last semester. When divvying up the vast topics for this final project, I specifically requested to speak on this topic. Why? Because I believe that if you can master this skill, you will succeed much more at college/life in general.
So here goes.
- So here goes.
- What’s an achiever and why does it matter?
- “That’s too structured for me,” you say.
- “A giant to do list is too overwhelming for me.”
- “I didn’t finish everything on my list for today”.
- A quick note about your lists:
- “Do you recommend music or podcasts, etc. while you work?”
- “What about breaks?”
- I hope this was helpful for you, may you be able to get everything on your list done.
What’s an achiever and why does it matter?
A Clifton Strengths Achiever is one of the 34 ways their test determines how your brain is hardwired. Achievers are all about the finish, they want to accomplish things and find immense satisfaction in the finish. It just so happens to be my number one for my ranking. I will say as a precursor that I have other strengths that help me time manage really well like Discipline and Activator. Discipline is all about structure which may explain the following. Activator is all about the start, and turning words into action. All together, my Achiever, Discipline, and Activator work nicely together to help me be successful. You may have different strengths and that’s amazing! Take the following with a grain of salt and see how you can modify it to help you succeed.
When I start a semester, I have a notebook akin to a bullet journal or planner. In it, I map out my schedule and every week. Every month gets a different theme with different colors because that’s fun. If you are a planner person, get yourself a planner. Don’t know if you are a planner person? Try it. If you don’t open your planner once in the first two-ish weeks of school, congrats, you are not a planner person. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the skill of time management. If you are not a planner-person but spend 12 hours looking at your phone, consider putting in all of your assignments in your calendar on your phone, you can have it notify you, reminding you XYZ time out of your due dates in your calendar or other apps.
As soon as you get your syllabus, input all of your assignments, due dates, etc. into your planner/calendar/system. Next look at when you have class/meetings/other obligations. Determine when you have free time relative to when your assignments are due. For example:
|Morning class||Class in morning|
|Afternoon class||Afternoon class||Class in afternoon||Class in afternoon|
The above was roughly my schedule. My due dates were mostly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. From this, I determined my days to do homework are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays/weekends.
“That’s too structured for me,” you say.
I got you.
giant to-do list method
Another way I manage time is to make a giant list of what I need to do with their due date. In my head, I estimate how long each task will take. Then I do the tasks in order of when they are due.
“What if I really, really don’t feel like doing the task I have due next?”
That’s why you mentally keep track of how long it takes you to do the task. You can do a short task or a task you feel like you can do the easiest next. The idea is to keep up your productive momentum. Like they say in physics, “an object in motion stays in motion”, you keep your productive momentum, you shrink your list, you eventually finish everything on said list. (Not going to lie, this is me trying to translate my inner Achiever monologue all day every day.)
“A giant to do list is too overwhelming for me.”
I totally got you, I normally don’t show people my giant to do list because seeing it is stressful for them.
smaller to-do list method:
Instead of having a giant to-do list for the entire semester (or the last month of school when things get super hectic like me), you can take it a week at a time. If that’s still too much for you, think of what you need to get done today and plan accordingly. If you finish everything on your list today, you can either be done for the day or start tomorrow.
“I didn’t finish everything on my list for today”.
That’s ok, cut your losses and begin anew tomorrow. The most important thing is to have a good day, and it’s ok to take days off too (I’m super bad at that so if you are like me and figure out how to take a day off, let me know). This will be hard if you are an achiever, it’s our downside but I promise taking days off is so, so important.
A quick note about your lists:
In my planner I have a box system.
|Empty box||Not started yet|
|Filled in but not 100%||Started it and filled is proportional to rough completion|
|100% filled in||donezo|
When I do my to-do lists, I put them on a whiteboard. Essentially both of my systems do the same thing. The box system offers an acknowledgment of starting a project and finishing a project. Writing out what I have to do on a whiteboard does the same thing and is super satisfying to wipe off and erase it from being there.
What I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t matter what system you use to keep track of your things to do. The important thing I’ve noticed is acknowledging progress and completion. This helps keep that production momentum going, making you want to keep going.
“Do you recommend music or podcasts, etc. while you work?”
The answer is it depends on you. Some tasks, like chores, music/podcasts/etc are great because chores are often menial. When it comes to homework, I’ve worked with people who make a study playlist and that’s the only playlist they listen to while they work. The repetition helps them basically drown it out and they are able to focus. Or if a good song comes on and they sing a bit, they are still able to keep up the momentum.
For me, I get bored if I listen to the same playlist so I have different ones with different genres of music. My liked videos playlist on Youtube is filled with recent music I’ve found and liked, but I have a Disney playlist, a Broadway playlist, a focus playlist of instrumental/video game/indie music, and a motivational playlist on Spotify. I like Youtube because they let me have AdBlock but I like Spotify’s ability to recommend music for your playlists. Pick and choose your favorite music listening systems. I don’t like ads, I find them distracting and they interrupt the momentum.
As for podcasts, I don’t know many people that listen to them while working on homework. Critical Role is what I consider to be a dungeons and dragons podcast. I find I have to be in a very specific mood to listen to that while working. Not when I have to read a bunch or intensely focused. However, it was great when I took a photoshop based class and did a bunch of drawing on my computer.
“What about breaks?”
If you find yourself slowing momentum, this is a great time to take a break, grab a drink, some water, go to the bathroom, and walk around and if studying with other people, socialize a bit, chances are they are slowing down a bit too and you can encourage each other and talk about nonsense for 5 minutes, it won’t kill you.
Say you can’t get out of the slowed momentum state, it may be time to do something different. When I get stuck on a coding assignment, I try doing a chore like unloading the dishwasher and coming back to it. If I can’t get out of the slowed momentum state and I have done everything I can think of to try and increase the momentum again, I quit for the day. To try and increase the momentum, this can mean doing chores, asking for help from classmates, working on a different assignment, exercising, doing a hobby for 30 minutes, getting another cup of coffee (or caffeinated beverage of your choosing), etc.
I hope this was helpful for you, may you be able to get everything on your list done.
Thank you for reading my How to Time Manage by an Achiever, I appreciate it. Comment below if you use any of the tricks I use or if any of them were helpful. If you like my content, consider subscribing to my mailing list and if you were wondering what Clifton Strengths was, click here. If you want to know why I mentioned it, click here.