by Department of Student Success

Do you find yourself wanting to improve your time management skills? Managing your time well is one way to become more efficient in what you spend your time on or push through the obstacle of procrastination.

One of the most challenging parts of managing your time is identifying what to prioritize. There are many good ways we can invest our time, but aligning your time with your goals will automatically help you narrow down how to prioritize. The Time Management Matrix is a tool that will help you identify the most important projects, tasks, and activities.

Person looking at their watch on their left hand, with the person's planner and meal on their desk

Time Management Matrix

Time management matrix that shows the four quadrants of important/not important, and urgent/not urgent
The Time Management Matrix is a tool which helps identify what is the most important, urgent and non-urgent task, goals, or projects we need to prioritize. Learn more at weekplan.net/academy/weekly-planning/4-quadrants-of-time-management

Time Management Matrix Example

  • Urgent & Important: Test for chapters 1-3 is due in three days; register to vote deadline in three days
  • Not Urgent but Important: First draft of semester paper due in two weeks; need to call family/friends to connect
  • Not Important but Urgent: Last-minute meeting up for virtual movie night
  • Not Important & Not Urgent: Instagram

Time Management Methods

Time Blocking

Time blocking or time boxing is a scheduling method where you order your day into blocks of time. You may not accomplish everything you need to in that given block/box, but getting into the habit of showing up for the time to begin working on the tasks will help you move in the right direction.

The Pomodoro Technique

However you answer the question, don’t spend valuable time recounting every moment of your career (or resume), unless you want to immediately tank your chances by boring your potential boss. This answer isn’t just about being entertaining or engaging; it also gives your future co-workers a door into what kind of employee you’ll be. Will you always be this droning with every open-ended question you’re asked on your new job?

The Pomodoro Technique helps you focus intentionally on the task at hand and organize your task in a way that minimizes distractions. Through smaller specific times to study, work on homework or answer emails, you help yourself stay focused on that particular task.

Follow the steps below to try out the Pomodoro Technique

  1. Pick a task to work on
  2. Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes
  3. Work on your task until the alarm goes off – set aside your phone in the meantime
  4. When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break – stretch, get yourself a refill of water check your phone for messages
  5. Now you have completed one round of the Pomodoro technique! Repeat as needed until your task is fully complete OR repeat and start another task. After four rounds, take a longer break between 15-20 minutes

This type of technique is also great if you only have 20 minutes to study or work on something. Even though you only are completing one round of the Pomodoro technique, getting into the habit of using a 20-minutes to work on a task will help you towards completing the goals. Learn more about this task at todoist.com/productivity-methods/pomodoro-technique.

Batch Working

Just like the rest of your interview prep, you don’t want to wait until you get this question to try out your answer. Think what you want to say and practice it out loud. Consider recording your answer or leaving yourself a voicemail, then wait an hour or more before you play it back to give yourself some perspective on what you’ve said.

Do you find yourself multitasking but the results of multitasking do not always match the outcome you need? Multitasking has been shown to not only be inefficient but also can have risks to your mind and body over time.

Batch Working is one way to work ahead and focus on working on similar items in the same time frame. Similar to Time Blocking, you block out several times to work on tasks but unlike Time Blocking, you focus consistently on the same sort of tasks during the larger batches of time. Do you have multiple papers due during the semester that leads to one larger research paper? Use batch working to work on all the papers together if possible, doing all the research, creating an outline, and working ahead to give yourself a good start. Learn more about batch working at monday.com/blog/productivity/how-to-improve-productivity-with-time-batching/.