Orientation Time Management Strategies By: Harry H. Holdorf
Is It Possible to Manage Time, or Does It Really Manage Us?
Helpful hints for the Health Care Student
There never seems to be enough time to get everything done. Balancing school, work, family and fun in a world of 24/7 connections is extremely difficult.
But, consider the following…
There are 168 hours in a week
1,440 minutes in a day
That is a lot of time if you manage it well, and no amount of time is enough if you don’t.
A lack of clear priorities and time management strategies can leave even the student with the best intentions with no hope for success.
It has been said that “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” The best students produce more significantly more than others, regardless of the profession. They are more focused, less distracted and obsessively protective of their time.
Listed are ways that you, a health care student, can be more productive:
- BE INTENTIONAL
Success is predicated on making choices that provide control over time. Time management should not be an accidental exercise. Take control. Plan. Be thoughtful about what activities to perform. Without proactively creating a time management PROTOCOL, you leave too much to chance
Make a list of all the activities you perform. Next, identify the activities that could be assigned to others and transition them. For instance, family members can help out with the household activities and classmates can help with school activities, such as forming a study group. You many even need to eliminate certain activities all together, such as TV time or Social Medial Time. Now take the remaining tasks and list them in order of importance and estimate how much time each one takes each week or day.
Every successful time management plan includes a schedule creation that allows plugging your tasks into your school hours. Here are a few scheduling tips.
Schedule higher priority activities first:
If you run out of time and cannot finish an activity, it will be a low priority that is not finished. Secondly, set aside time for scheduling your week or day. Sounds a little strange, but taking 20 or 30 minutes to lay out your day or week will pay big dividends. Third, input the schedule on an electronic (with reminders) calendar. Lastly, small tasks may not need to be scheduled as they can be done during idle time.
- TIME BLOCK
Creating hour-long power blocks of time is a great way to stay focused, be efficient and create an environment free of interruptions and distractions. For example, report/document review, making or returning calls/e-mails, study team meetings, can all be done in distinct time blocks. During the block, ignore incoming e-mails, phone calls or peers and stay solely focused on the task at hand. Amazingly, individual interruptions can cause a 5-15 minute loss of productivity and that is why reducing interruptions is a great way to manage your time.
- MANAGE IDLE TIME
We all have a tremendous amount of idle time built into our days. For example, you may commute a minimum of 60 minutes a day either by car or train and try to safely maximize your time. While you drive, you can make phone calls via Bluetooth or use train time or call pooling time to review homework or documents, write e-mails, or prep for class or clinical. Commuting provides a great, uninterrupted study time.
While you may not know when idle time will occur, you can prepare for it. Be prepared with items that take as little as 5 minutes to do, such as completing clinical forms, reviewing a short document or writing e-mails. Then, while waiting for a class, or taking a scheduled break during clinical hours, you can be checking items off your to-do list. By effectively utilizing very minute of your workday, you can create extra free time.
- CREATE BOUNDARIES
Set acceptable and manageable limits to relationships, projects and technology. Many people do not want to set boundaries because they have a hard time saying NO or are afraid of getting passed over by their friends or family… However, reality is quite different. Realize there are some boundaries that you have near exclusive control over, such as ones with your family. Other limitations, such as with your boss, peers and school program norms may take some negotiations. Be honest with yourself and others and only commit to acceptable limits. This may mean closing your door, not answering a ringing phone or saying NO to extra work hours or nights out with your friends.
- COMPARTMENTALIZE TECHNOLOGY
E-mails, texts and calls do not need to be answered the moment they are received. In fact, there are two solutions for them. They can be answered during idle time or scheduled so they are addressed first thing in the morning, midday or immediately after a clinical/class day… Also, it is okay to disconnect form technology every now and then.
- NO EXCUSES
There are many reasons for not managing your time well, but there are no excuses. By holding yourself accountable, you will be able to do more in less time and free yourself up for what is really important-time with family and friends.
Time management is a competitive advantage for both students and the health care educational programs they are enrolled in because it is a performance multiplier. Successful students make for successful graduates, and successful graduates make for successful employees.
These tips will give you a leg up on the competition.