The need to plan the whole of a task or all of its activities, ordinary and extraordinary, common or exceptional, often depends on the degree of importance one places on his time’s good management.
However, the best time management tips involve anticipating the tasks to be carried out according to the objectives and deadlines.
2. Principles of Planning and Time Management
i) Allow Time for Planning
When you feel pressed for time, you tend to save time on the backs of organizing and planning operations. Stress naturally pushes us to take immediate action.
This often leads to the opposite effect: instead of saving time, we lose a lot of it, with the psychological consequences we know.
ii) Specify Immediate and Long-Term Goals
Knowing exactly where you want to go, what goals you want to achieve. The more precise the target, the easier it is to effectively predict the most functional organization and plan.
Reflection on the comparative value of the different goals pursued also facilitates the determination of priorities. In scheduling conflicts, we know in advance which objective will come first, which second, which will be left behind.
iii) Have an Overview and See It Coming From a Far
Good planning should make it possible to have both an overview of the project (to the detriment of the detail) and a detailed view of each stage or component of the project. It allows you to see potential problems coming well in advance and react to them in time. It also ensures a good integration of the different stages and components of a project. The worst way to run a project is “emergency management”, or short-sighted management.
iv) Plan in Detail in the Short and Long Term
Good planning begins with breaking down the project into logical steps and tasks, as precise and detailed as possible, a description of the steps to be taken and the tasks to be done, as exact as possible, to estimate the time each task will take.
This division into stages and tasks, the duration of which has been realistically estimated, makes it possible to judiciously spread their completion according to the schedule of deadlines and the time available, and in the event of conflicts, to prioritize specific tasks and how to be productive more.
v) Anticipate the Unforeseeable: Flexibility-Flexibility-Versatility
The unforeseen is the primary cause of disruption of schedules and work plans. Some tasks take longer than expected (unrealistic preliminary estimate), availability is reduced (family events, health problems), etc. Therefore, it is prudent not to plan too tightly and leave yourself room for manoeuvre, to be very realistic in estimating the durations and of your work capacities, to allow time to search for missing information. , and anticipate any changes in goals or objectives.
vi) Take into Account Their Real Abilities
The human mind is not a computer. It works best under certain favourable conditions and becomes incredibly inefficient with fatigue and prolonged stress. Therefore, you must adjust your planning and management to your motivations to your ability to concentrate and the functioning of your memory.
vii) Keep Track Of Your Progress
You should have the track records of all your progress. It is also desirable to know exactly what you have done with your time.
3. Principles of Organization of Its Space and Its Work Tools
To be ordered yes, but what order are we talking about? A given order has value only according to the goal to be achieved.
Its paramount quality is, therefore, to be functional. As far as studies are concerned, the order chosen often reflects our conception of learning. We could summarize the two poles of this conception using two metaphors.
The first is sedimentation: learning is conceived as a progressive accumulation of knowledge, layer after layer, course after course.
The order chosen is that of a binder where the documents and course notes are piled up in order of arrival, regardless of their category and their utility value. The second is that of the architect: learning is seen as a questioning and constant reconstruction of concepts and matter.
i) Quick Accessibility
A “functional” order must allow rapid access at all times to essential information and classified documents. There is no one exemplary classification method.
This must be considered according to each project. Each subject, each course has its own requirements. The classification of course documents and their indexing must be thought of in practical terms.
ii) Separate Information relating To the Management of a Course from Information Relating To Learning Content
All the documents used to manage a project must be gathered and filed separately and readily available at all times: syllabus, deadlines, schedules, instructions for the work, evaluation criteria, etc.
4. Organizational, Planning, and Management Strategies
The principles stated above follow several strategies applicable to studies and any form of learning and manage the task effectively.
i) Take Inventory of Tasks to Be Performed
The main tasks characteristic of school studies which must be planned are in general:
- attendance at courses
- Preparation and follow-up of lessons: preparation work, note-taking organisation before the lesson, reorganising his notes after the lesson; personal study: documentary research, readings, visits, screenings, etc.
- preparation for exams: memory aid, internalization, reminders, revisions, practices;
- Individual and collective work: project development, documentary research, readings, work plan, writing, checks, presentation.
ii) Estimate the Time for Each of the Tasks and Steps
This time can vary considerably depending on each person, each class, and each job.
Familiarity with the course material, the volume of content imposed, the number of new concepts, difficulties in understanding, the existence of textbooks, the abundance of documentation, the type of exams, the performance requirements are some of the variables to be taken into account in estimating the time of a task.
This ability to accurately estimate the time it takes for each task develops with the sessions, but on the condition, we have evaluated how long it really took us.
We are often incorrigible optimists who grossly underestimate the time required for learning. Faced with the unknown, it is better to plan a more realistic range: a minimum and a maximum.
For example, reading, understanding, and assimilating a 10-page text can take 1 to 3 hours.
If it is necessary to summarize it or extract diagrams from it as a reminder or practice, it will take an additional 1 to 2 hours.
It may seem like a lot. However, the time spent on in-depth study and good assimilation as you go is time saved on the preparation periods on the eve of the exams.
iii) Detect Missing Information
It isn’t easy to plan everything in advance and once and for all. Some data is not known from the start: type of work, type of exams, and readings.
Readjustments will be necessary throughout the session or year. It is desirable to double the session plan with weekly planning.
iv) Produce a Realistic and Flexible Schedule
Giving oneself deadlines to complete a work or a step, a review of material or a reading does not consist of locking oneself in the shackles of a rigid schedule. Instead, it sets a range and a time limit beyond that we know that we will start to fall behind.
Unlike a schedule that we impose on ourselves with specific tasks at times fixed in advance, the schedule leaves the freedom to move from one task to another depending on the moment’s desires and availability. It is a more flexible management tool that is more respectful of human functioning.
v) Evaluate Your Actual Availability
One thing is to estimate an ideal time to accomplish each task; another thing is to have that time available. Health, the realities of family life, those of part-time work or the profession mean that the real availability does not necessarily coincide with an ideal time to devote to studies.
This comparison between real availability and ideal learning time will be necessary for decisions: number and choice of courses, priorities, time allocated for each task, etc.
vi) Determine Your Priorities
Unfortunately, it happens that, due to lack of time, we have to choose between several objectives that are close to our heart, and sacrifice one or two.
In the absence of sufficient availability to complete everything successfully, it is preferable to decide in advance which courses or parts of the subject area to be favoured, that is to say, those to which the most appropriate time slots will be granted more profitable, and those for which we will try to turn the corners rounder.
vii) Regularly Take Stock and Readjust Your Path
During a session, and even from week to week, our forecasts are likely to be upset by a large number of factors: family events, unforeseen learning difficulties, new data on a job to be done, etc.
It is necessary to readjust his schedule. It is advisable to set aside a small period of the week, usually at the very end or the very beginning, to take stock and decide on the coming week’s tasks and priorities if everything cannot be done.
5. Organizational, Planning, and Time Management Instruments
The general principles and the strategies of the organization, planning, and time management, are embodied in several organizational, planning, and management instruments.
i) Files, Folders, Binders, Archive Boxes
There are other tools than the ring binder or the school notebook to classify and efficiently manage course content and assignments.
The computer has a classification system by sets and subsets (folders, files), which greatly facilitates access to information and its handling.
One can easily make a system of classification of its equivalent paper documents using “loose” sheets classified in “folders”, classified in files, classified in a binder or archive boxes. Such a system makes it possible to distribute a course’s documents according to their usefulness and use.
There are also monthly calendars. The monthly calendar can perform the same function but with a shorter perspective (and the risk of losing sight of the month (s) to come).
Diaries exist in several forms: electronic, on the computer, in notebook form. It is a short-term management tool. In the case of studies, it is better to have a weekly agenda than a day. Associated with a weekly to-do list, it allows flexible management of the tasks to be performed. This tool must accompany us like a shadow wherever we go!
v) Task Lists
A To-do list is used for short term as well as long term management goals. They can be daily, weekly, global, task by task, step by step.