What you need to know to be successful, but no one teaches you…

History. Math. Writing.

These are all essential lessons you learn during school, which help you throughout life. However, two lessons essential to your success, which often don’t get taught in school, are time management and organization. For some reason, these two subjects get left off the curriculum. One could infer colleges and universities assume students acquire these two skills in order to earn their degree; in reality, students learn how to handle it at all to get by – to graduate. The inference is probably true to an extent, but there’s one big difference.

Classes end. Semesters end. Degree programs end. Your career? That doesn’t end.

So how does one stay organized and manage time correctly day after day, year after year? How do you find enough time in the day to get everything done? It comes easier to some than to others, but there are conscious things people can do to help themselves.

Slow down – Sometimes it seems as if work and life are zooming by and sometimes it feels as if your to-do list is only growing and not shrinking. Instinctively, our bodies kick in to overdrive and we feel we need to run a 100 mph to get everything done, but in reality, moving 100 mph usually causes more mistakes and takes more time to fix them. Next time you feel like flooring the pedal and going all out, take a deep breath, pause and refocus.

Prioritize – After you’ve slowed down, take a minute and think about what is on your to-do list. Determine what has the most pressing deadline and go from there. If time is of the essence, it’s important you use that time wisely. Working on something due in two weeks, when you have multiple things due before the end of the week, is not a good approach. You need to focus on the items due first. By completing these tasks, you will instantly release the pressure of your to-do list, which is piled on top of you. And let me tell you…there is no better feeling than that.

Measure Twice – Ever heard the expression, “measure twice, cut once?” Carpenters use it to emphasize the point of making sure you do your task the right way the first time. If you rush cutting a piece of wood and have to restart a project half way through, it takes more time to start over than doing it right the first time. Even with the pressure of your work and timelines approaching, it is important you focus on the task at hand, so you only have to do it once. Even if it takes you a little longer to get through it, it’ll pay off in the long run. Promise. Nothing is worse than stopping one thing half way through, just to go back to a completely different thing because you messed up. It ruins your groove and wastes time.

Technology – You use technology throughout the day anyway, why not make it help you stay organized! There are countless apps out there which help you stay organized.  A very popular one is Evernote, but a very simple and easy to use app, which I use, is Any.do. I mean you can make a task list in Outlook or in Google Calendar. You can make reminders by simply asking Siri. Technology is all around; use it.

Organization and time management will make or break you. Promise. There isn’t an easy way to teach yourself, but it can be done. Don’t underestimate it. It truly is as important as a lot of the classes you took in college. Without being organized or being able to manage your time, it doesn’t matter what you learn or what you know, because you’ll never be able to get through your long to-do list!

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