- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

George Mason University student Adam Modzelesky of Fairfax has a knack for juggling many activities at once. As editor inchief of the university's newspaper, Broadside, he balances his time between the office and the classroom.
Mr. Modzelesky, 21, a senior majoring in communications, spends at least 40 hours a week at the newspaper in addition to carrying a classload of 15 credit hours. Since journalists must meet deadlines, he has learned valuable time-management skills through the experience. He uses Post-it notes and a Palm Pilot to keep himself organized.
"If lists are piling on top of each other, it can be nerve wracking, but I take things in stride," he says. "It's a lot of multi-tasking, but it's a challenge that I'm more than willing to accept and perform."
Although students complain about lacking the hours in the day to complete the tasks at hand, experts say proper time management is the solution to productivity dilemmas.
After all, the same 168 hours in a week are available to each human being, including those who have made great contributions to society, says Archie Tinelli, director of executive and professional education at George Mason University's School of Management.
Mr. Tinelli, who holds a doctorate in adult learning, says he recommends making lists to his students who struggle with organizing tasks. Besides working with students, he is also a consultant to private clients, mostly business executives.
"It's a matter of discipline," he says of time management. "Identify the things you want to accomplish that day and the times you plan to get them done."
One of the most common dilemmas is that people aren't aware of how they spend their time, Mr. Tinelli says. He suggests creating a time log to track how their day is being spent.
After tracking their schedule for about a week, he says, students have to be willing to change the bad habits they find. Mr. Tinelli advises setting reasonable goals that can be measured with results.
For instance, if someone realizes he is routinely watching three hours of television each evening, Mr. Tinelli suggests limiting the hours spent viewing sitcoms and investing it into building relationships, exercising or learning a new skill. Progress can be tracked by keeping a daily journal.
Commonly, incoming college freshman have difficulties adequately using their time, says Marcy Fallon, director of the learning assistance service at the Counseling Center at the University of Maryland, College Park. Parents and teachers aren't monitoring students as they complete their responsibilities, so sometimes students fail to complete their assignments, she says.
Ms. Fallon, who holds a doctorate in counselor education, says the center offers a range of services for students struggling with time management, including individual meetings, workshops and classes.
When students come to her overwhelmed with college life, Ms. Fallon suggests that they break big tasks into smaller, more manageable items. For instance, if a 20-page paper is due on March 1, she suggests choosing a topic by Feb. 1, finishing the research by Feb. 15, and writing a final draft by Feb. 25.
"So much of a student's life is spent on stuff that doesn't pay off," she says. "Kids will have a class and go back to the dorm and sleep for two hours. That's two wasted hours in my opinion. Use your time in a way that helps you reach your goals."
Robert Lewis, 27, of College Park says his life would probably benefit from taking Ms. Fallon's advice. Mr. Lewis, a 2002 art graduate from the University of Maryland, works as a design intern at University Publications, under the Division of University Relations at the college campus. In the fall, he plans to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
"I'm a procrastinator," he says. "I just can't seem to get anything done ahead of time. I get it done on time, but never ahead of time. It's good because I don't stress myself out about anything, but it's bad because I wait until the last minute to finish things. If something goes wrong, then I don't have time to give myself some leeway."
Mr. Lewis says the reason he lacks a plan most days is that he feels it's too constricting to chart each hour of his life.
"If I try to organize too much, I disappoint myself because nothing ever goes as planned," he says. "I try to do things as soon as possible, but it doesn't always work out like that."
One way to increase productivity is to take naps, says Frank Whyte, owner of Training Services on Demand Inc. in Frederick, Md. Mr. Whyte, who holds a doctorate in psychology, suggests sleeping three hours less at night and napping 30 minutes each afternoon. The organization's Web site (www.tsod.com) offers workshops on varying topics, such as time management and stress management.
"Our circadian rhythms are such that we really need to sleep twice a day," he says. "If we can sleep twice a day, it will suffice for eight hours."
Further, Mr. Whyte suggests reclaiming the time spent waiting. For instance, while waiting in line, catch up on expense reports or read for the job or class instead of twiddling your thumbs, he says. Some people carry a pocket recorder with them to record new ideas.
"That goes all the way down to your commute in the morning," Mr. Whyte says. "Are you just listening to tunes and being frustrated that the guy next to you is a bad driver? Map out your strategy for the day in your mind."
Another enemy of productivity is perfectionism, Mr. Whyte says. Revisiting a project that is 99 percent complete to make it 100 percent flawless is unnecessary, unless it has to be exact, he says. Allowing room for imperfection is a much less stressful way to live, especially since about 70 percent of stress is a result of poor time management.
Ironically, perfecting time-management skills can be a problem. Mr. Whyte warns people with Type-A personalities against becoming obsessed with planning. He says going overboard can cause sickness or lack of performance.
"If you manage your time well and your stress well, some things will happen," he says. "Your life will be more productive. You will be a happier person. When you look back at your life when you are 70 years old, you will say it's been good so far."
Learning to speed read is another way to save time, says Don Wetmore, president of the Productivity Institute in Stratford, Conn.
Mr. Wetmore, who holds a doctorate in law, is the author of the book "Organizing Your Life." He offers personal productivity seminars, has published more than 100 articles on the subject and has a Web site (www.balancetime.com).
Mr. Wetmore says the average person spends a couple hours each day reading at a rate of 200 words a minute. If people could increase their speed to 400 words a minute, they could double their reading speed and comprehension rate.
Hiring a personal assistant or intern is another way to save time, he says. Many of the simple tasks that fill a day could be accomplished by someone else.
"Now more information in one day is thrown at us than what people got 100 years ago in a whole lifetime," Mr. Wetmore says. "This is now the information age. Working hard is not a good primary strategy. You have to start working smarter. … If time management means anything, it means making decisions to give extra years at the end of life."


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