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Time Management: Task Management

Ideas on how to organize your time, how to avoid procrastinating, and how to effectively use term, weekly, and daily schedules.

What is Task Management?

undefinedCollege opens a new world of opportunities and freedom. Gone are a routine daily schedule and teachers who remind you to turn in your assignments. Instead, you get to set the pace for your day and choose when and how you will study around your college classes. This freedom can present new challenges and problems as you learn how to become an independent learner. However, becoming both an effective manager of both your time and tasks will set you up for success. 

A TASK means work that requires to be done. In college, these tasks/work varies from course to course and professor to professor. Tasks may include: completing required reading for class discussion, taking quizzes or exams, collaborating on a group project, creating a presentation, writing a paper, doing research, etc. Task management in college involves overseeing an assignment through planning, performance, and completion. It requires you to have good time management and organization skills as well as the ability to control your desire to procrastinate. 

Some of the key areas of focus on this Task Management page are:

  1. Some basic task management advice
  2. How to break down and plan big assignments, 
  3. How to get control over your email,
  4. Free task management apps for College Students

Basic Task Management Tips

  1. MONOTASK!  Be it Snapchat you have to check constantly, the latest social media story from your favorite sports team, or an interesting YouTube video your friend sent—the multitasking mode has become a default one in the 21st century. However, this kind of behavior can decrease your productivity by around 40%, according to Harvard Business Review. Instead of overwhelming your brain with information you don’t need, try focusing solely on one task and restrain yourself from scrolling through your feed on Instagram.  You need to embrace monotasking! Studies show that generally, we stick to one task for about 18 minutes before we feel the urge to do something else. This behavioral pattern can be changed with commitment and practice, but if you cannot resist taking a break from one task, switch to a different one and pick up where you left off later. Studies have shown that multitasking is really not possible. While you may be able to do more than one thing at once, your brain cannot focus on more than one task at once. 
  2. KNOW YOURSELF! Be self-aware and know what your limitations are. If you create a list of tasks to work on for your classes and give yourself three hours to work on them, but you know that your focus is only good for about 45 minutes. Think about rescheduling your time so that you "chunk" your tasks in shorter time frames. Work on reading chapter 3 for Intro to Psychology for 20 minutes. Set the textbook aside, and give yourself another 15-20 minutes of downtime. Then go back and switch to reviewing those flashcards for Anatomy and Physiology I for 20 minutes. By chunking your time and your tasks you allow yourself to focus on only one thing for your personal attention span.  However, remember, that your attention span can be increased with practice and discipline. 
  3. BUILD SELF-DISCIPLINED! People with a higher degree of self-control spend less time debating whether to indulge in behaviors that are detrimental to their success and are able to make positive decisions more easily. They don’t let impulses or feelings dictate their choices. Instead, they make level-headed decisions. As a result, they tend to feel more satisfied with their lives. So how can you develop this self-control or self-discipline? Check out the video below for some helpful tips. 

Breaking Down and Planning For a Major Assignment

Step 1: Gather Information
If possible, print off a hard copy of the assignment.
Read the entire assignment out loud.
Brainstorm ideas.
Step 2: Calculate the Assignment Time
Use the chart below to calculate how long you should spend on an assignment. For every 5% the assignment is worth, you should plan to work 2 hours.
5% = 2 hours 25% = 10 hours
10% = 4 hours 30% = 12 hours
15% = 6 hours 35% = 14 hours
20% = 8 hours 40% = 16 hours
Step 3: Use the Assignment Tracker
Fill out your assignment tracker. 

Watch the video from Algonquin College and use the steps suggested to learn how to fill out the template. Make sure to start work at least two weeks before your assignment is due. 

Infographic: 7 Strategies for Managing Your Email

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Best Apps for Task Management in College

Having a great to-do list app can help you get organized and get more done, whether you want to manage personal tasks, or those of a family or small team.

  • Best For Productivity Enthusiasts: Todoist — $3.00 at Todoist
  • Best For Workflow Management: Asana — $0.00 at Asana
  • Best For Getting Things Done on Apple Devices: OmniFocus 3 — $49.99 at Apple.com
  • Best For Inuitive Design: Remember the Milk — Free; Offers In-App Purchases at Apple.com
  • Best For Pomodoro Technique: TickTick — Free; Offers In-App Purchases at Apple.com
  • Best For Apple Users: Things 3 — $9.99 at Apple.com
  • Best For Getting Things Done: Toodledo — Free; Offers In-App Purchases at Apple.com
  • Best For Simple Streams of List: Workflowy — $0.00 at Apple.com
  • Best For Building Habits: Any.do — Free at Chrome Web Store
  • Best For Outlook Tasks Integration: Microsoft To-Do — Free at Microsoft Store
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