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5.3: Self-management vs. Time Management

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    This textbook and class uses the phrase “self-management” rather than “time management.” In our culture, we see “time management” used for this concept so why is the different phrase used here? We’re all given the same amount of time each day, each week and each year. We all have 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 365 days per year. Can we change the time we’re given, or in other words, can we really manage time? No, we cannot, but what we can do is manage ourselves and how we use the time we’re given.

    Here’s a video from Stever Robbins, a business consultant and executive coach, explaining this concept:  Video Link Self-Management []

    We can manage ourselves by prioritizing our tasks according to the Quadrant II Time Management System and use the time we’re given according to the self-management tools described earlier in this chapter. What happens, however, if we’ve identified a priority and planned that task in a weekly planner, but then we find ourselves procrastinating? We know the task is important in our life role, and the deadline is approaching, but we just keep pushing off the task.

    Procrastination is a habit of delaying tasks until later. One of the primary reasons people procrastinate is fear, or at least a form of fear. Perhaps the task is something difficult or long and involved, and we’re nervous about our ability to accomplish the task. Perhaps the task appears distasteful or may cause negative emotions. Another reason for procrastination is the quest for perfection. We may procrastinate because we don’t think we can have a perfect outcome. Mr. Les Brown, an internationally-known businessman and motivational speaker, says “practice only makes improvement; perfection doesn’t exist.”

    PRO TIP:

    My student pro-tip involves a strategy to help minimize procrastination. There is an old adage 'Don't eat the elephant all in one bite.' We often wait until the last minute to tackle a big project, and create ridiculous amounts of stress for ourselves. To help avoid this, break down large time-consuming goals and projects (exam preparation, writing assignments, research papers, creative projects, group work) into smaller chunks. This tactic is also known as "chunking." Start soon after the project is assigned and create a schedule where you intentionally set aside a small amount of time (30 minutes to one hour) each day to work on it. As you make your way through the week, be committed to completing your chunk for the day and track your progress in a visible way by using a calendar or whiteboard. After you complete your daily chunk, reward yourself for your efforts! All of these short periods of daily work add up significantly over time, and you will surprise yourself by how much you accomplish.

    - Robert Swatski, Professor of Biology

    Remember the SMART acronym from decision-making and goal-setting? Here’s another version that provides five recommended strategies to combat procrastination.

    SMART Strategies to Combat Procrastination

    S = Start Small

    M = Manage Your Expectations

    A = Ask for Help

    R = Reorder

    T = Time Trick


    S = Start Small

    Pick a small task or chunk from the whole project and commit to finishing that one small chunk. Successfully completing that small chunk will build your self-efficacy and inspire you to keep working.

    M = Manage Your Expectations

    We might be afraid that we don’t have the skills necessary to complete the project so we need to manage our expectations of ourselves. Tell yourself you’re going to attempt the project with the skills and abilities you have and go as far as you can without expecting perfection.

    A = Ask for Help

    Ask for help getting started from a friend, family member, classmate or HACC resource such as an instructor, librarian or tutor. You’re not asking for someone else to do your work for you, but by simply asking “how do you think I should start?” you may see the project from someone else’s view.

    R = Reorder

    You don’t have to start at the apparent first step of a project and continue in order. Sometimes, there’s a smaller, easier step that normally would be later in the process you could accomplish quickly thereby breaking the ice and giving you confidence to keep going.

    T = Time Trick

    Tell yourself you’re going to work on the project for only 15 minutes. Commit to and complete those 15 minutes. The chances are good that you’ll keep working beyond 15 minutes and before you know, you’ll have half the project completed (and then maybe you just will keep working to the end!).

    This page titled 5.3: Self-management vs. Time Management is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Heather Burns, Connie Ogle, & Allyson Valentine.