Choosing Self-Management over Time Management


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Addyson McCullough, Assignment & Features Editor

Time management. The infamous phrase we are all too familiar with. We hear variations starting in elementary school. “Your teachers in middle school won’t hold your hand! You have to learn how to manage your time!” Then again going into high school.

In my experience, high school is where we really begin to learn time management. For most, it is the first time we are juggling multiple activities and nurturing more time-consuming relationships. Classes, clubs, sports, first jobs, and friends consume our lives. We find our identity in the things we are devoting ourselves to. By the time we’re seniors, we are burnt out, tired and off to college.

The Oxford definition of time management is the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work. When we apply this definition to the entirety of our lives it helps make it as efficient as possible.

After we’re dropped off at college, we’re reminded by almost every adult that we need to manage our time wisely. This leaves me with one looming question: why are we still pushing time management when it leads to hyperfocus on tasks and burnout?

We should instead be focusing on self-management. The Oxford Dictionary defines self-management as management of or by oneself; the taking of responsibility for one’s own behavior and well-being. While these definitions are fairly similar, I noticed a much deeper meaning after personal investigation. Self-management for me looks like development in all aspects of my life.

When applied to my life, time management consisted of allotting every hour of my day towards assignments, work, and extracurricular activities. This left me with no time for myself, friends, or doing things I enjoy. I noticed that time management only bettered me in one area: school. I experienced little personal growth and was only left with few friends, extreme levels of stress and good grades. I want a lot more positives in my life than just good grades.

I began researching self-management and found that I don’t have to sacrifice my happiness for good grades. Self-management allows me to balance my life rather than manage it.

I now focus more on taking care of myself. I still get all my work done and do it well, however, I am much more flexible with my time. I’m also learning to prioritize my mental and physical health.We cannot put forth our best work when we are burnt out and tired.

Here are some ways you can switch your management style to self-management.

1. Fully understand your goals.
Write them down. Talk about them with trusted friends, family members, or mentors. Have people who consider your best interests hold you accountable.

2. Be flexible with your time.
It is okay if that assignment takes a little longer than you anticipated. If you are having a rough day, take an extra 10 minutes to yourself and do something that makes you happy.

3. Never underestimate the power of a snack or a quick nap.
Sometimes our brains just need a time out. If you are feeling overwhelmed, feed your body, move your body, or just take some time to rest.