Mentoring Monday: Time Management & Prioritizing Schedules

Time Management & Prioritizing Schedules
Theresa Whitehead, School of Music Mentor

Time management and prioritizing are important for everyone in many aspects of life. For us as music majors – it’s critical. With our busy schedules, it is essential to figure out how to fit everything within 24 hours of the day. So how do we do it? For some people, prioritizing & figuring out a solidly planned schedule comes naturally. For others, it takes time & practice. The key is to stick with a plan that works for you. Our music major life is insane (as I’m sure you already know & will constantly be reminded). Generally, our days are packed from 8am to at least 9pm. The hour breaks in between classes will fly by before you remember where you have to be for the next one.

My first tip is to not let time get away from you. Especially time where you need to grab food. Music majors have a habit of “forgetting” to eat. Don’t let not having enough time in your schedule be an excuse not to grab nourishment for your crazy day. You’ll be surprised how lenient professors are with allowing you to eat during class (as long as you’re not singing/playing an instrument at the same time!). Didn’t wake up in time to grab breakfast before you start your day? Set out cereal or a poptart/granola bar to grab on our way out the door the night before. Do you have back-to-back classes from 11-3? Keep snacks in your locker to munch on between or during your classes, or keep a packed lunch in the lounge fridge & grab it before you head off to your next class. Sleep is another habit music majors often skip out on. It may seem silly now, but sleep is absolutely a part of what you need to prioritize & keep as a part of your schedule. Always make time to keep yourself healthy & energized throughout your day. You will need it.

What about the rest of your day with classes and practicing? You will discover a natural flow of daily music major life. Utilize your breaks (however they occur) to practice and do homework. Also make sure you have time to breathe. Keep an open slot for your own personal downtime, whether that is reading a book, taking a nap, exercising, social time, etc. Taking time to let your brain absorb everything that’s happened during your hectic day will help you feel better about accomplishing your next task.

So how is it done? Some people know their schedules, & get through their day as it happens. If that works for you, great! Personally, I am quite the opposite. If you’re like me here’s a tip: write everything down. Look at your schedule and write in what you will be doing in the blank spaces (like eating lunch!). On my busiest days, I write out my schedule hour by hour with what I’m doing during that time. Having this list with me throughout the day keeps me on track. Plus, crossing out what I’ve done each hour feels awesome! If it’s easier, get a white board to help you plan your day. A planner or notebook is also a very handy tool for music majors. With a lot of tasks to accomplish daily, it’s hard to remember everything. It’s a good investment for those who will use it!

Whatever your strategy may be, stick to it. When you are overwhelmed about not having enough hours in the day, just remember that many of us have done this before & continue to be successful. Stick to whatever plan works best for you.

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