Lesson 4: Time Management


Do you feel like this sometime?


You have just added school to your life so you are now even more busy!
However, with the proper skills and tools...you can make it work and be successful!!

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this lesson's material, students will be able to:

  • Identify personal challenges to time management
  • Identify current time management styles
  • Identify how much time will be needed to effectively study and be successful at KVCC
  • Review the Principles of Procrastination
  • Develop and anti-procrastination plan


Randy Pausch on Time Management
Click HERE to view this video on YouTube 

Each of us has 24 hours in a day, how we use this time makes the difference between success and failure. In this lesson I'm going to present some difficult facts about how to use your time that will make your success in college much, much more likely! However, some of these tips and suggestions may be difficult to implement and you may not "like" them...that does not make them less effective...in fact, it is likely that by applying these suggestions you may improve other areas of your life as well!

Scheduling your Time and To Do Lists

One of the most important tools for time management that you have is your calendar. It can be a book, a wall calendar, desk calendar, or even on your computer...what is important is that you do two things...

  1. Identify the things that you need to do and when they need to be completed
  2. Schedule time in your day to get them done (or to work on pieces of the project if it is a large project)

By this I mean that you write everything that you need to get done on your schedule...including recreation time, down time, grocery shopping, etc. etc. Managing your time with a nice mix of Obsessive Compulsive quality will do you very well!

Reward yourself when you "Get-r-Done"!

When you have completed a task, or even if you have just successfully stuck to the schedule that you created for a day, reward yourself...treat yourself for having done a good job. This is a vital behavioral link that will maintain the behaviors that you need when the chips are down and you are not motivated to accomplish anything. And when I say "reward" yourself, I mean something in the "here and now"...becoming smarter and accomplishing your career goals are "long term rewards"...we all need "short term rewards" (a walk, play time, ice cream) to keep us going along the way!

Careful...being "busy" but not getting things done, is REWARDING!

Be careful that you don't get caught up in the "frantic rat race" of trying to get too much done...being busy is different than working smart and getting things done. The trick is that when you run around getting nothing done you can sometimes fool yourself that you are "too busy" or that you are "working hard" when you are still not getting what you need to get done!

Interestingly, people around you will encourage this behavior and society loves people who run around all the time. Focus your efforts on what is important! Remember, everyone who every accomplished anything ever has had the same 24 hours every day that you have.

High Cognitive Load vs. Low Cognitive Load

Have you ever had a paper to write and laundry to do and you find yourself doing laundry all day? Me too!

Here is what is going on...doing laundry does not take a lot of though and the results are very clear. Doing laundry, for many people, is a "low cognitive load" and "high reward" type activity (read "easy to do and immediate reward) and it is very motivating to do these things.

Writing the paper is considered to be "high cognitive load" (requires lots of thinking) and "low reward" (the immediate reward is not there...you get that later when you get a grade) so we are not as motivated to do these activities.

When you are scheduling your To Do List do your High Cognitive Load work first and then do your Low Cognitive Load work. Personally I do one High and then one Low and then one High, etc. etc...the Low Cognitive Load work actually REWARDS me for the High Cognitive Work that I got done!

Cognitive Load and Procrastination

One of the ways in which we get into trouble is when we are challenged with a to do list that has both high and low cognitive load items on it.

We have a tendency to LIKE doing low cognitive load tasks when we have high cognitive load tasks to complete! Who wouldn't??

We might even go as far as "Well, I'm a good mother and good mothers keep their house clean so that their kids don't get sick, so I'm going to clean the house instead of doing this paper because my role as a mom is more important..."

This is not rational...but we can use it to put off high cognitive load tasks...and then we fail to get them done.

Fear of Failure

Another important concept that is related to time management and getting work done is "Fear of Failure".

Fear of Failure is a real emotional experience that students have when they are in school. None of you WANT to fail assignments, tests, classes, etc, but many of you might have failed in the past and you might be worried about failing again.

On one hand, a bit of fear is a GOOD thing...if you have a chance of failing you might tend to work harder to be sure that it doesn't happen!

On the other hand, a lot of fear is a BAD thing...if you fear that you are going to fail a lot you may engage in unconscious behaviors to bring that about (Self-fulfilling prophecy) or you may simply stop trying (Learned Helplessness and Procrastination)

Fear of Failure and Procrastination

Many people who experience too high a degree of Fear of Failure may simply stop doing their work. This might seem sort of silly because not doing work will guarantee failure, but consider it this way.

Some people can end up FEELING good about failing if they don't TRY, because deep in their mind they can justify themselves by saying that they would have SUCCEEDED if they had done the work.

So, failure is attributed to not getting the work done, it is not attributed to the person's INABILITY to do the work. So, no slam to the self-esteem!!

Procrastination is not a Personality Type it is a Behavior that will keep you Poor and Unsuccessful

I hear a lot of folks simply say "I procrastinate" like they might say "I like blueberry pie" or "I am really into Star Trek". This is a false perception. Procrastination is effectively the prioritizing of Low Cognitive Load activities over High Cognitive Load activities. (The actual psychology of this is covered in Lesson 21 in this course, but suffice to say, it is a nasty habit that will cause you to fail....and, well, you need to get over it!)

When you are making up your schedule, schedule the IMPORTANT things first and then schedule the rest.

Now, that said, important things might include time with your kids, time in recreation with your spouse, etc....but you are adding SCHOOL to your life...something needs to give, something needs to make room for SCHOOL. Come up with creative ways to involve your family in your schooling or delegate mundane tasks like cleaning and transporting the kids to others...those things are not "quality time", they are "Low Cognitive Load" activities that we want to do when we don't feel like really WORKING!

Write it Down

There is no success-based seminar or book that you will come across that will fail to tell you that you that you need to WRITE OUT YOUR GOALS and WRITE OUT YOUR SCHEDULE on real paper (or on your computer). There is something about writing it out that MAKES IT REAL and then we can hold ourselves ACCOUNTABLE.

Put your goals (whatever they are) on the fridge (isn't that what those magnets are really for??), write out your daily plan EVERY DAY, schedule yourself obsessively (including down time and rest time and eat time and exercise time)...Yes, you are busy...a LOT of people are busy...quit complaining about it and just go become successful. You are likely NOT going to win the Lottery and no Prince (or Princess) Charming is waiting to sweep you off your feet and lay you in the lap of luxury...so get to work and CREATE your success.

Write down a schedule for a typical work/family/school day (or week, if that is more appropriate for you). Identify all the things that you need to get done that day and when you are going to get them done. Go into as much detail as possible.

For a sample, here is a typical teaching day for me at KVCC:

6 AM
Up and make the coffee, coffee with my wife Katie---Breakfast
7 AM
Start morning chores of Dishes, Laundry, Trash, and Cat Litter
8 AM
Drive to KVCC
8:45 AM
Review email, discussions in online classes, and preview presentations for class
9:30 AM
Teach Developmental Psychology
11:30 AM
Relax a bit!
12:00 PM
Eat Lunch
1:00 PM
Review presentations for class, review online classes discussions and grade assignments (if needed)
1:30 PM
Teach Interviewing and Counseling Class
5:00 PM
Work out at Planet Fitness
6:00 PM
Drive Home
6:45 PM
Dinner and down time, process time
8:00 PM
Watch TV with my wife
9:00 PM
Check online class status
9:30 PM
Work on Dissertation writing and research
11:30 PM
Read and then fall asleep...


Lesson 4 Discussion A

In this discussion I would like you to relate to how you feel about the strong messages in the teaching above? How does this apply to you? What barriers do you see between where you are and where you want to be? What success oriented habits do you need to develop?

Lesson 4 Discussion B

Reflect on the information above regarding high and low cognitive load, Fear of Failure, and the concept of procrastination. Write a paragraph about your own history with procrastination and your personal plan to address this problem now. Your plan must be more than "I'm not going to do that anymore"...you need to apply your understanding of the source of procrastination (as identified in the high and low cognitive load section and the Fear of Failure section and must identify specific action steps that you are going to take to get over your procrastination)