Stop WatchI read a blog by Craig Ballantyne about politically incorrect time management strategies to be productive. As the CEO of an online consortium of colleges where 75% of the staff works remotely, we communicate A LOT via email. Last year after reading Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week, I implemented an email management strategy he has used for years; I only check my emails at noon and 4:00 PM. I sent an email to my staff upon my implementation of this new system stating my intention to check emails on the above schedule. I also clarified that they are fully empowered to make any decision that costs less than $500. For those financial decisions that range between $501 – $1,000, they should consult another team member for their opinion and just do it. So many emails were for approval for items they should have the authority to carryout. As always, I would be available via phone if they needed me.

On my first day under the new plan, I checked emails at noon and 5:30. It took me a combined total of eleven minutes to review all of the emails for the day and answer those that needed my attention. The next day it took 8 minutes. It is amazing how many of the issues resolved themselves without my input. Normally, I would have my Outlook open on my desktop and would immediately look over or even switch over whenever I heard the chime of a new message. This wasted hours of my day.

So given Craig’s blog and Tim’s book, here are my strategies for a college student to manage their time HARD-CORE:

  1. Turn your phone’s ringer off (no vibrate either). In a connected society, our phones provide us with distractions like texts, email, Facebook, Twitter and the occasional phone call. The majority does not require immediate attention or response.
  2. Check phone, email and other forms of social media four times per day: morning before class or work, at lunch, at dinner and before you go to bed. You will be amazed at the time you have just freed up.
  3. Make study time a sacrosanct event. Set a time and do not let distractions interfere with this time.
  4. Schedule fun. All work and no play is no way to go. College is a great time to have fun and discover who you are.
  5. Make a schedule and stick to it. Use a planner that you keep with you at all times, this can be electronic or good ole paper. Review your plans for the upcoming week on Sunday.
  6. Only have one planner or system, multiple systems don’t work.
  7. Be realistic with your schedule. If you are not a morning person, don’t schedule an 8:00 AM class.

Be a HARD CORE time manager.

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