It’s the Little Things

Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo.

Courtesy of Steven Depolo.

Having trouble balancing your job search with a full schedule of classes, clubs, sports and other engagements? Try implementing a few tips from Laura Vanderkam’s recent book, “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”

In her book, Vanderkam chronicles how she reclaimed less productive hours from her day – usually late at night – by restructuring her schedule so that she would have more time in the morning for tasks that were important to her.  Vanderkam makes the point that there are 168 hours in every week – enough for school, activities and “me time” as long as you are careful about how you schedule this time.

Top 5 Tips from Vanderkam’s book about how to reclaim lost hours in your week:

1. Track your time

Vanderkam says that the first step to a more efficient week is to better understand how you budget your time. Keep a log for a week and record when you wake up, attend class, go to bed, and everything in between.  You may be surprised to find “lost hours” throughout the day – time spent browsing the internet or clearing emails –  especially late at night.

2. Imagine your perfect day

What time would you wake up and what would you do before class? Would you go for a jog or read the newspaper with breakfast?  How much time would you spend studying and searching for your next internship versus eating meals with friends or catching up on your favorite show?

3. Think about how to implement these changes

Look at your typical day and re-evaluate how you can better achieve your ideal schedule.  If you’re losing productive hours late at night, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes earlier and slowly adjusting to a different sleep pattern.  Try setting goals like watching your favorite show over the weekend instead of staying up late on a Tuesday night, or enrolling in a class with friends if you have trouble motivating yourself to go to the gym.

4. Establish routines

Get into habits that help you achieve more elements of your ideal day. Just like you meet for classes and clubs at specific times of the day, do the same for completing other tasks.  Maybe this means setting aside three hours throughout the week for your job search or designating which days you plan to practice piano.  Whatever you decide, stick to that schedule for two weeks and you’ll already be adapting to new habits!

5. Reflect and re-evaluate

Don’t take on too much at once! Concentrate on adding one new habit at a time, and reflect on your progress.  Strive for regularity as a means of reducing stress and staying on track.

Adapted from “What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” by Laura Vanderkam, excerpt here.

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