The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

Breaking the Cycle: Five Time Management Tips

Time management is something even the brightest and strongest students struggle with. Especially in this day and age, temptations make it all too easy to be sucked into a seemingly inescapable hole. Here are five tips that can help boost time management.

Time management: the bane of everyone’s existence. In an ever-changing world that evangelizes competition and a hustler’s attitude, people are desperate to eliminate anything that might distract them from their goals. However, as the famous saying goes, “easier said than done.” Media has grown more tempting and attention spans have dwindled. Some might feel as though the loss of distractions is inevitable. But, do not worry: here are some time management tips that make this battle a little less daunting!

1. Block Distractions

The first step to overcoming this daunting task is to block distractions. This is especially important presently as people are more susceptible to minor disturbances and end up accidentally spending an hour or more on less important tasks. Therefore, by designating specific hours of your day to completely focus on your work and removing distractions during this time (muting all notifications, using noise-canceling headphones, or working next to an individual that can keep you on task), productivity can be increased. 

Digital representation of distracting applications (Credit: Moxee Marketing).
Digital representation of distracting applications (Credit: Moxee Marketing).

Making a to-don’t list is a good place to start since distractions are different for everyone. Creating an individualized list of tasks that are not as important or a list of specific objects that will cause you to be less productive can help organize yourself and give you a good starting point. This list helps hold you accountable and forces you to acknowledge your weaknesses when resisting temptations.  

Senior Sue Zhang said, “[It is important to] block distracting applications such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. When there is a barrier, you’re less inclined to use them as a distraction.” 

2. Pomodoro Technique

A popular technique that also helps hold you accountable and keeps you on schedule is the Pomodoro Technique. Although its popularity has generated numerous critiques about the length of the working period and the inevitability of interruptions; overall, the Pomodoro Technique has continuously been recognized as one of the most effective tools for time management.

Diagram of a tomato kitchen timer which is the inspiration behind the first Pomodoro Technique (Credit: StudySmarter).

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Originally, the technique consisted of a 25-minute working period followed by a 5-10 minute break. This is repeated four times until a long break of about 20-30 minutes is taken and then the process is repeated all over again. If you complete the task before the Pomodoro working period is up, it is advised to review the work you just completed or the list of upcoming tasks planned for the next Pomodoro time block. 

Cirillo based this technique on the classic 25-minute kitchen timer and eventually developed the idea that short bursts of time help maximize concentration. For people who find it difficult to focus for long periods, many sources on YouTube utilize the Pomodoro Technique and can help you get your work done!

3. Set Hard Deadlines

Although the Pomodoro Technique helps delegate your time, many people often use this time leisurely and without purpose. Taking the initiative of setting aside an allotted time to work is vital; however, using and maximizing this time to its fullest potential is just as important. Therefore, by setting hard deadlines for tasks and prioritizing the more urgent assignments, you can maximize your time and the amount of work completed.

For example, if you have Math homework due tomorrow, English homework due tomorrow, History homework due tomorrow, and a large project due by the end of the week, deadlines are essential. By combining the Pomodoro Technique and the act of maximization, you can choose to allocate one Pomodoro working block for math homework and two Pomodoro working blocks for English homework and History homework. For the project, you can create a calendar of the week for your project in which you must meet your set deadline of how much of the project you must have completed by the end of each day. 

Although it is difficult to find the motivation to set these hard deadlines for yourself and productively complete your tasks, students offer advice.

Senior Nicole Yeroushalmi said, “Make sure to keep a good schedule and it helps a lot if you’re doing something you’re passionate about.” 

Taking courses you enjoy and finding aspects of your work that you look forward to is one of the most compelling incentives that can propel you to successful time management and finding the motivation to work at a productive pace.

4. Apps

However, for individuals who despise working in general or are taking courses because of required credits, some apps can help monitor and motivate you. Two notable and reliable apps are the Forest app and the One Sec app.

Illustration of the Forest App Logo (Credit: Trees for the Future).

Forest is a productivity application that “helps you stay focused on the important things in life.” The premise of the app is planting virtual trees. Whenever you want to stay focused, you plant a tree by setting a timer using the green button around the circular photo of a plant on the app’s homepage. The tree will then start to grow while you work; however, if you exit the app or attempt to use any outside feature on your phone for more than a few seconds, the tree will die. Although the tree is completely virtual, the notion of “saving a life” is motivating to individuals and pushes many to continue working. Users can also earn and spend virtual coins earned through the app on planting real trees, another rewarding aspect of being productive.

Illustration of the One Sec App Logo (Credit: Google Play).

One Sec is a focus application that requires the individual to take a deep breath before opening their social media or favorite apps. This app gives you the chance to pause and think twice before being sucked into another set of hours spent on consuming media that grants momentary euphoria. One Sec also notifies the user how many hours they have saved so far by not opening their favorite apps and the streak the user is on. This gives the user that final boost of motivation to continue their streak and delegate their time more efficiently. Not only has its effectiveness been confirmed in a peer-reviewed scientific study with the Max-Planck Institute and Heidelberg University, but it also applies to all areas of your life. You can have the app require you to breathe before opening Amazon which helps prevent impulse purchases; breathing before using social media has also been scientifically proven to increase sports activity, restore mental health, and promote healthy habits; and finally, many people with ADHD praise One Sec as the “holy grail for ADHD relief.”

Ultimately, these apps remind users of the beneficial side of social media. Applications have been developed that have been proven to promote instead of decrease efficiency, and while it may sound surprising, using apps can decrease overall app use.

5. Be Lazy

Finally, it is important to be lazy. While this may sound counterintuitive, many people forget to not overload themselves with work. If you are working in a team, it is perfectly fine to delegate responsibilities and be assertive about your workload! Being a team player does not mean taking on the entire project by yourself. Trust others and be lazy. Let someone else do the task and use your time more effectively on other priorities. The class of 2024 valedictorian agrees.

Senior Zach Hyman said, “Sometimes it’s better to recognize the magnitude of your responsibilities and workload. While you can certainly help others, you become more time-efficient if you focus on your own tasks first.”

Whether you are in a team or working individually, ultimately, you are your biggest priority. Your abilities are not limitless; to carry out the time management tips above, you need to be honest with others and yourself. After all, stress and pressure are two of the biggest factors that decrease productivity and restrict the effectiveness of these time management skills.

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About the Contributor
Lillian Wu
Lillian Wu, Associate Editor
Lillian Wu is one of Guide Post’s associate editors. She enjoys writing, playing Go, looking at brain teasers, and is an officer for the Pre-Med Club. She is also part of the swim, winter track, and spring track teams. In addition to writing for Guide Post, Lillian enjoys volunteering in her free time and learning new things. Whether at school or home, you can find her daydreaming and thinking about life.

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