This week, Careers Adviser Sian is giving you some top tips on time management…

Whether you are a diligent list maker, an unashamed procrastinator or a chaotic “whoops, I forgot about that” apologiser, everyone would like to be able to fit more in and get more done.   Time management is sold as the answer to all your problems – think how calm and serene your life will be when you have mastered “Time Management” – you will live in a dream world where you will fit in all your work; never miss a deadline; make plenty of time for a part-time job; volunteer; exercise; remember your Auntie’s birthday and have a full and active social life!  That’s the dream and that’s why if you search for Time Management on Amazon you will have over 90,000 results; books, diaries, planners to scroll through!

Yet in the real world we continue to juggle things, to trade-off priorities, to struggle with deadlines and forget Auntie’s birthday card!  Time Management is never something that you will completely master and find the perfect answer to, but it is something you can get better at and find something that works for you.  And when you do, it will help, it will make things easier and less stressful, and you will get more done.

A good starting point to look at how you manage your time is to look at the work of Stephen R. Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989).  He produced a grid with two axis: IMPORTANT and URGENT.  All your activities and the things on your short and long term ‘To Do lists’ (if you have them) can be plotted on this grid.

Looking at each of the quadrants you can see that things need to be managed and prioritised differently:

1. Manage: Urgent and important stuff

This area of the grid relates to activities that are immediate and significant. These  might be deadlines, last minute preparations, exams, medical emergencies, crises and appointments. These things have to be done as soon as possible, don’t wait!  Just do them

2. Focus: Not urgent, but important stuff

This is the key!  Covey emphasises this particular area especially. It is not urgent (yet) but stuff here is important – either to you or to someone else.  This might be booking an appointment for something, planning your revision, applying for that dream job and getting your Cv ready, stocking your fridge or maybe one day booking a holiday (we wish!).  Plan it and do it.

3. Avoid: Urgent, but not important stuff

These activities feel urgent and important, but often their importance is incredibly small. Emailing to ask for an extension to your coursework deadline, apologising that you are going to have to reschedule an appointment, calling your Auntie as it her birthday today and your forgot until now, or rushing around Tesco at 9pm looking for something for dinner!  Doing this stuff is important at the time but these things could have been avoided with a bit more foresight and planning. Avoid them by thinking ahead and becoming urgent.

4. Limit: Neither urgent nor important

Okay, so nobody is perfect. We all watch boxsets, we get sucked into reading rubbish articles online, we play FIFA or we look at pictures of other people’s new shoes on Instagram – this stuff really isn’t useful or time critical in any way!  Be conscious of how much you do this – limit yourself to 30mins, delete the app or whatever works for you, you will be more productive if you do!  Cut back on time doing this – put limits or barriers in place to help you.

What next?

So, with your new found determination to use your time productively – how about getting your CV ready using the resources on the Careers Hub (Careers Hub Resources) and booking an appointment with one of the CCCU Careers Advisers?  The appointments are for 45 minutes and take place online; you might have specific questions to ask, might want ideas or information, or might just want to talk about how we can help you find that dream job.  Book in and we will do what we can to help – what have you got to lose? Book a 1-1 appointment.

And now go and buy your Auntie that birthday card! 😉

Getting further support from The Careers and Enterprise Team at CCCU

You can get ongoing careers support via the following ways: