Before you read this article, I’ll be honest: I didn’t do the best job managing my time as I wrote it. There were so many ideas in my head and yet every time I sat down to write, a new batch of emails came in, or someone walked into my office or my phone buzzed — you get the idea.
Managing your time is hard work and can often feel like another box to check on an ever-growing to-do list. Moreover, effective time management is a lifelong journey; I know because I’m still on it. I could reiterate everything you’ve already heard about time management, but instead I’d like to offer a different perspective — one that, with the help of your peers, reframes time management as a means to living a goal-oriented and purposeful life.
First, take time to consider your goals and what makes you happy. These can be academic in nature, social, career-related or concentrated in any number of areas.
“Prioritize first,” Neehar Mahidadia (NHS ’21) says. “It ultimately comes down to what you think is important for you.”
Whatever you identify as central to you, find a way to externally acknowledge it. Whether it is by quietly taking the time to write out your goals or talking them through with someone else, concretely recognizing your goals is the first step to achieving them.
There are many useful resources available on campus to guide you through this process of initial goal setting, including the Academic Resource Center and the Cawley Career Education Center, both located in the Leavey Center. Take advantage of these resources to begin your pursuit of what will make you happy.
As Akila Namasivayam (NHS ’18) says, “If the things you are managing your time around are things you enjoy doing, it won’t even seem like a hassle!”
Once you have your big-picture goals, take the time to make them happen in smaller increments.
“I realize how important it is to block off time with specific intentions. You need a plan of what to do during that time,” Charli Pogany (NHS ’21) says.
Breaking down goals into manageable parts is a vital key to long-term success: Write to-do lists, keep a calendar and carry a planner with you.
“Be intentional when you sit down to do homework rather than just completing it to get it out of the way,” Michaela Hitchner (NHS ’19) says. “Spend time each day to write out or make note of everything that needs to be done,” Ava Tennant (NHS ’18) says.
The advice here is to plan out the steps. Determine which smaller pieces will guide you toward your goals, and focus on achieving them one at a time.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you keep track of and achieve these smaller goals. Google Calendar is a favorite of mine, but other suggestions include apps such as Evernote, Any.do, and Finish. For me, Google Tasks is a lifesaver.
After having set your purpose and plan in place, you can then move into implementation mode. You may be crossing off to-dos and gaining momentum, but after a while, it can start to feel like a whirlwind. Therefore, it’s important for you to schedule time for reflection and balance to counteract this hectic feeling.
As Julia Gasior (NHS ’20) says, “Know when to stop, know when it’s not productive to study anymore, know when you should go out to dinner with your friends.”
If and when you struggle or need to re-center, reach out: Every layer of support here at Georgetown is priceless. Reach out to peers, academic deans, faculty advisers and chaplains. Building and maintaining supportive relationships is a vital part of living a meaningful, goal-oriented life.
“It’s always possible to reset, even if you think you’ve really messed up. There is nothing you can’t make a comeback from, especially when you let yourself lean on your professors, parents and peers for advice,” says Sheela Ranganathan (NHS ’19).
The late Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Jobs dedicated his time to pursuing his life’s purpose, and his accomplishments changed the world forever. It worked for him, and this pursuit of a meaningful, goal-oriented life can work for you, too.
Jennifer Ericson is an assistant dean of academic affairs in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. From the Dean’s Desk appears online every other Thursday.