Author: Samantha Thuesen
“Time management” is an intimidating phrase, and “organization” is its evil sidekick. We all wish we would start work sooner, whether it be to meet a deadline, or finish a chore around the house. There are many techniques offered to overcome these “I’ll do it later” days, but they don’t work for everyone, simply because everyone approaches his or her work differently. We all have different “work personas,” and therefore, we each have our own set of techniques to improve our time management and stay organized.
In June of 2016, I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award, a one to two-year-long project that addresses a community issue. Beginning in 2014, I addressed the stress levels of seventh-grade students at my local middle school. Through research and discussions with the school’s guidance counselor, I determined the primary root of stress to be poor time management and disorganization. Keeping in mind that all students learn differently and face unique obstacles, I used the idea of “personality types” to create different techniques that would help to overcome these obstacles and make school less stressful.
In a series of visits over three weeks, I presented a classroom of seventh graders with these techniques, and monitored the amount of time spent on homework, along with its difficulty level. Each student picked his or her own “personality type,” and used the techniques to complete all future assignments. Various surveys asked how often they used the techniques, if the techniques were helpful, and if they felt less stressed while completing assignments. Overall, the students found the “personality types” to be helpful in improving their time management and organization, and could see themselves using them in the future. I made small workbooks for each student to bring home as well, so they’d always have something for reference.
Although this project was aimed toward middle school students, I found myself using these techniques while doing my own work, and therefore I believe they can be useful to people of all ages. It’s difficult to become obedient with time management and organization, but by taking simple steps, anyone can achieve his or her goals, on time hopefully.
The Social Butterfly
Definition: a person who procrastinates by texting friends and/or using social media
Do you find yourself picking up your phone when you have writer’s block? When you don’t have the motivation to do something, do you check to see what your friends are up to? With this state of mind, you can end up wasting hours on your phone, and you’ll be disappointed knowing how productive you could have been if it weren’t for all those social media notifications. Try these simple strategies to reduce your “social butterfly” tendencies.
Put your phone in a different room. If it’s not there to tempt to, you won’t have a problem with concentrating on your responsibilities. Hide it in a drawer if it helps!
Turn the phone off. If you can’t come to separate yourself from your device, just turn it off. You’ll never know if you’re getting a text or notification, and it’ll feel rewarding to turn it back on after a few hours of work.
The Couch Potato
Definition: a person who avoids responsibilities and doesn’t start work until the last minute
It’s natural for us to want to take a nap when faced with large workloads and deadlines, but in the end, we’re only hurting ourselves. “Why do today what I can do tomorrow?” is the slogan for Couch Potatoes. Nevertheless, there is an easy strategy to use that gets work done, while also keeping that comfy couch in the picture.
Set a timer. Take a timer from the kitchen, and set it for a certain amount of time, say forty-five minutes. When the timer goes off, take a ten-minute break, and then set the timer again. Repeat this process until all your work is done.
The Trash Can
Definition: a person who can never find his or her work- cannot stay organized
It’s hard to do work when you can’t find it. This doesn’t help with stress either. When we’re in a clean, organized environment, it’s much easier to think. A clean room makes for a clean mind. If you find your desk and/or room to be crowded with unnecessary clutter, try this strategy to “take out your trash.”
Color-coordinate your things. If you have pounds of paper around you, separate them into different colored folders. If you want to get creative, decorate these folders. Use some fun stickers if you’re feeling crazy. You’ll feel much better knowing what everything is and where it’s located. While doing this, throw unnecessary things out, or move them somewhere else. If they aren’t useful to your work area, they don’t belong there.
Definition: a person who can’t keep up with all of his or her activities/responsibilities
Much like the Trash Can, the Over-Committer’s mind is crowded with information, whether it be deadlines, dates with friends, or appointments. With so many things to remember, it’s easy to forget to submit something or go somewhere. Thankfully, there’s a fun and easy way to alleviate the stress of being so popular.
Buy a planner. The easiest way to remember something is to write it down, and planners are a great way to make it fun. Buy a planner in your favorite color, and get some multi-colored pens, too. Make your deadlines one color, your appointments another, and so on. Your planner can be an extension of all the craziness that’s going on in your head, but this way, you won’t forget any of it. Doodle on the side when you’re stressed, and highlight anything that you’ve accomplished. It’s rewarding to actually see your workload decrease. Make your planner your space to destress throughout the day.
What’s your personality type? Once you choose, be proud of it! We should all celebrate our unique “work personas.” Try any of these strategies, and see if your time management and organizational skills improve. Remember that we can all succeed with a little self-discipline, and maybe a nice, comfy couch.