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1 Time management Adam Sandelson LSE Student Counselling Service 18 January 2012.

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1 1 Time management Adam Sandelson LSE Student Counselling Service 18 January 2012

2 2 Aims Identify useful strategies for better time management Examine psychological issues Explore common difficulties with perfectionism and procrastination

3 3 Message from a friend: Failing to plan … is planning to fail

4 4 Introduction How do you go about managing your time?

5 5 Five basic principles Be realistic about the task….how long will it take? Be determined…..limit distractions/displacement Be organised………books, pens, coffee Balance the other parts of your life Be flexible…things may change

6 6 Taking control of time Ask yourself from time to time: How am I using my mental and physical energy now? Is this good use of my time? Identify priorities/commitments for the week ahead and write on blank sheet all sessions/ meetings; leisure activities; paid work; time for self; adequate rest/sleep.

7 7

8 8 Use personal timetabling to: acknowledge what you have achieved save mental energy be purposeful and realistic meet deadlines and keep up with work have effective study time and effective relaxation Enjoy yourself without guilt and worry

9 9 Causal Dimensions of Time Management Problems for Students Intrinsic/EmotiveExtrinsic/External Feel overwhelmed & ‘frozen’ by all the tasks Anxiety about what is expected of them Anxiety about writing: worried about the quality of their work Wanting to live up to other people’s standards Wanting to live up to their own image of themselves Bored – motivation is low Workload is heavy & appears overwhelming Lack of clarity about what is expected Student not experienced in managing time independently Cultural dimensions: come from a society that is relaxed about time Course is not interesting

10 10 Tips for avoiding distraction Start with the unpleasant tasks first Set yourself a time limit for reading. Use active reading techniques. Distraction problems can occur when the subject being studied appears totally removed from the real world. If you find a particular recommended or set book hard to follow, try another that offers you a simpler or clearer explanation. If other students are distracting you, go somewhere else. Where others are working quietly, you are likely to do the same.

11 11 Four Tips for Managing Time 1.Start with the unpleasant tasks first – get them out of the way early. 2.Set yourself a short time limit for reading: 40 – 45 minutes tends to be the maximum time most people can read before their concentration slips. At the end of the set time, stop and take a break. 3.Don ’ t struggle with books you find hard to read. If you find a particular set book hard to follow, try another that offers you a simpler or clearer explanation of the same subject. 4.Keep your working area clear of clutter: the Wall Street Journal reported that typical US Executive wastes 5 hours a week looking for misfiled/mislaid items. (Lindley 2006).

12 12 Writing Strategies Free yourself up Go for a walk; talk it out loud Wait for a structure to arrive Bullet points, mind maps, scribble ideas Give yourself time to work it out – learning and writing involve unconscious processes Imagine looking back at this task in 6 months Work with others, use study groups, etc.

13 13 Common difficulties Perfectionism Procrastination

14 14 Are you a perfectionist? You are never good enough, whatever you accomplish You can’t complete work or projects, waiting to get them just right You must always give 100% or else be mediocre or a failure

15 15 What is perfectionism? Self-defeating thoughts and behaviours associated with high ideals, not realistic goals. Often mistakenly seen as desirable or even necessary for success. Recent studies show that perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success. –The desire to be perfect can deny you a sense of satisfaction and cause you to achieve far less than people with more realistic goals.

16 16 Causes of perfectionism You may have learned early in life that you were mainly valued for your achievements. You value yourself on the basis of other people's approval. Your self-esteem is based primarily on external standards. You are vulnerable and sensitive to the opinions and criticism of others. To protect yourself you decide that being perfect is the only defence.

17 17 Negative thoughts and feelings Fear of failure. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of disapproval. All-or-nothing thinking. Over-emphasis on ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘ought’. Never being good enough.

18 18 How is it maintained? Current triggers – eg research pressure Negative predictions – ‘I won’t do it well’ Unhelpful behaviours, –eg avoidance of writing, constant checking Confirming negative beliefs Self Critical thoughts – ‘I’ve failed again’

19 19 Vicious circle Set an unreachable goal. Fail, as the goal was impossible. Constant pressure leads to chronic failure and reduces effectiveness. Self criticism and self-blaming leads to low self - esteem, anxiety and depression. At this point you may give up completely on your original goal and set yourself another unrealistic goal, thinking "This time if only I try harder I will succeed".

20 20 4 common myths with perfectionism You can’t succeed without it It gets you the best results It enables you to overcome obstacles It helps you achieve and please others

21 21 What can I do about it? Realize that perfectionism is undesirable –perfection is an illusion that is unattainable. Challenge self-defeating thoughts and behaviours that fuel perfectionism. Cost benefit analysis of keeping high standards

22 22 Strategies to move forward Set goals – realistic, reachable, sequential Experiment with standards for success – Try for 80% or even 60% Focus on the process not the end result Evaluate success in terms of what you accomplished and what you enjoyed Celebrate and learn from mistakes

23 23 Common difficulties Perfectionism Procrastination

24 24 What is procrastination? Putting off a task which needs to be done It can affect our study and writing We may disguise avoidance by being very busy We may find things to do that are interesting or even useful, but don't contribute towards the main goal It may involve feelings of anxiety, stress, guilt, shame and depression

25 25 Overcoming Procrastination Use a diary Prioritise and set achievable targets Revise targets Acknowledge progress Stay focussed Avoid avoidant activities! Reward yourself

26 26 Procrastination – so what can you do about it ?  Aversion to the task -Develop motivation Find a personal engagement with subject … … how can I use this idea ? … what’s significant in this for me ? Why have I found this difficult in the past ? … … how is this different now ? If I had to explain this to others simply, how would I best summarise it for them ?

27 27 Procrastination – so what can you do about it ?  Impulsiveness / distractions -Long term vision -‘Unpleasant’ tasks first -Short tasks / short term rewards -Involve others in pay-offs -Mix active / passive work e.g. reading -Study groups sharing research teaching learning

28 28 Procrastination – so what can you do about it ?  Time management issues: -Allow more time for assignments … -… draft, leave, edit, redraft -Simple, realistic, daily goal-setting -Link short-term priorities to long-term goals -Lower your expectations ?

29 29 Procrastination – so what can you do about it ?  Environmental Factors -Ask library staff for guidance -Find your favourite space -Keep it clear, focussed on one activity -Symbolise it ?

30 30 Dynamics of study Past relationships My relationship with my studies Current relationships

31 31 What can I do? Look at your internal dynamics Write down any historic messages you carry about yourself Develop a more realistic assessment of your ability and worth as a person

32 32 Conclusions Look after yourself (diet, sleep) Keep a supportive structure for your daily life; have relaxation time See this as a time of discovery Recall past achievements Challenge negative thoughts Imagine looking back at the task from a future vantage point

33 33 LSE Student Counselling Service Free and confidential Groups and Workshops programme –Self Esteem Group –Stress Management Group Website has information about the ServiceWebsite –Stress management handout –Relaxation tape MP3’s –Links to self help resources

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