I was a student-athlete in college. I played golf for a D1 school and although golf isn’t the most exhilarating sport, it certainly brought its challenges with my time. Most weeks go like this:
Monday morning – Thursday afternoon: 6:30 AM workouts, class the rest of the morning, practice all afternoon, study at night. 11 PM bedtime.
Thursday afternoons we would take off for our next tournament. We could be driving 8 hours, or flying 8 states away, depending on the week. We wouldn’t return until late Sunday night. I was basically living a double life. A busy college student half the week. A competitive college athlete the other half.
I was definitely busy, but it was all business. I was learning how to become efficient and manage my time.
I implemented some things into my lifestyle that helped me immensely. I didn’t know I was teaching myself important life lessons at the time, but I carry these things with me today.
1. Daily Task list: I always write down my daily tasks. It helps me get a clear picture of what needs to be done that day so I can focus.
2. Avoid Non-Productivity: I got to the point that if I wasn’t doing anything, I felt like I should be doing something. We all need downtime at some point, and trust me I took it. But not when I had things to accomplish. I made sure to give myself an hour before bed each night to unwind and just relax.
3. Focus on Most Important: As you create a list of tasks, you’ll have things that are more important to get done than others. Focus on those.
4. Smallest to Largest: I would get the easy things done first that aren’t as time consuming. This gave me confidence that I was getting things done and crossing things off my list. If you start with the largest task, you’ll get frustrated easier as you are not crossing items off your list.
So as you learn to manage yourself and your time more efficiently, here is how you should focus in terms of importance and time.
1. Most important, shortest time to completion
2. Most important, longest time to completion
3. Least important, shortest time to completion
4. Least important, longest time to completion
When you learn to manage your time this way, you’ll increase productivity immediately. As I did this more and more in college and after college, it became easier. It becomes part of who you are. It defeats laziness and too much idle time.
How much Idle time should you have?
There isn’t a formula for measuring this. My advice is to know yourself and know when to take a break. I tend to want to relax late in the day, so I try to be as productive as possible early in the day. I consider myself more of a morning person than an evening person. Be productive and use your time wisely when you have energy to do so. If you need to take a break, take a break.
What a week!
I’ve accomplished almost all of my goals for this week by Wednesday! I’m going to re-evaluate and see what else I can get done. I’ve used the ideas laid out above and been extremely productive with my time.