You’ve heard time management strategies before, but now it’s time to put them into practice. Finals are coming, your job is demanding, and you still need time to exercise, relax and sleep. Let’s explore ways to fit all of that (and more) into your schedule. Pick the strategies that work best for you – and earn extra credit by using all of them!college students in library

Tackle your hardest projects first.

We all have items on our to-do lists that stay there way too long. I get it, tackling the item might be out of your comfort zone, or you feel it will take a lot of time or effort to finish. Here’s the deal, do those things first and your whole day will seem lighter because you won’t have a cloud hanging over your head. In most cases, the task will take less time and effort than you imagined, and stepping out of your comfort zone is how you grow. Just get it done!

Put everything on your calendar.

Busy students (and busy professionals) need to schedule time for important tasks, not just classes, meetings and social events.  For example, if you need more study time to prepare for finals, put it on your calendar. Need to see your advisor about scheduling second semester classes? Put it on your calendar. Missed a few workouts lately? Put them on your calendar. Losing touch with certain people? Schedule a lunch or dinner and put it on your calendar. Laundry stacking up? Put in on your calendar – and take your books to the laundry room so you can multi-task. You get the idea…

Turn off the noise.

When you’re stressed or need to get a lot done quickly, turn off the noise. This includes the TV, social media, and the radio. You can live a few days without breaking news, Snapchats, tweets, Facebook, and mind-numbing television shows. Turn them off and focus on finals and other important tasks. After the storm passes, consider cutting back on the noise that added to your stress level. It’s okay to check email just twice a day, limit television to an hour a day, and take a break from social media. You’ll be shocked at the extra time you’ll have each day to focus on what really matters.

Learn to say “no.”

This might be the hardest time-management strategy to implement because we all want to help others. However, when you’re crunched for time and finals are looming, it’s time to just say “no.” Start with something small, like saying no to a pick-up game of basketball when you need to finish homework. Progress to saying no to bigger time commitments if you’re already balancing a heavy school load and a part-time job.

Be the master of your time, and therefore your life. Take action today, and then start fresh each day. Open your calendar app and add study sessions, workouts, and dinner with friends. Tomorrow morning, tackle the hardest item on your to-do list first – take a moment to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, then hit the next item. Soon, you’ll be maximizing your day like a pro!