Managing Priorities as a Non-Traditional Student (39:17)
• 0-60 seconds: Good afternoon, this presentation touches on time management techniques specifically for adult learners and nontraditional students here at Western Kentucky University. Uh, for this presentation you will need paper and a pencil or a notebook of some sort, there will be an activity at one point. There is also a point where I will ask you to pause the slide so you can write down some information, so be prepared to do that as well. Before we get into the nitty gritty I wanted to take a moment and introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Markin and I am the advising associate for Potter College. I was also a nontraditional student both for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I have a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with an emphasis in print journalism and my master’s degree is in higher education administration. Both of which, as you can see here, I have achieved with children. So for those of you who are caring
• Minute 1: for a dependent, we have had some of the same experiences and all nontraditional students usually have an extra element that they are juggling while they are in school. So we will kind of include that today while we are talking about how to handle time management. If you are anything like I was, listening to a time management lecture based upon just classes and social life commitments can leave you feeling left out of the conversation. Nontraditional students are typically balancing multiple responsibilities while in school that can require more finesse in their time management. While some of the principles are the same for traditional and nontraditional students, there are unique situations I hope this presentation will provide. And while I can’t address every nuance being a nontraditional student I hope to provide you with some fundamental tools you can take from and tailor to your unique situation. In today’s presentation, this is what we are going to go over. We are going to talk about the myth of managing time, what time management is not, we are going to talk then about priority management.
• Minute 2: some of the tools you can use to manage those priorities, and then some secrets to success or some resources here that are specific to WKU. First of all, the myth of time management is that you can manage time. There are 24 hours in a day, hopefully some you are using for sleep and no matter what you do or how productive you are, you cannot change the time that you have available. So you are actually not managing time, you are managing your priorities and how to use the time you have available to you. So what we are talking about today is not necessarily time management, but priority management. So, here is when you are going to start needing that paper and pencil and we are going to talk about some things here that help us find out what our priorities are because you can’t manage them until you know what you do value as a priority.
• Minute 3: So, taking your paper and pencil I want you to take a moment and write down the things that you value, go for about six if possible if you can’t come up with six right away that is absolutely fine, three or four will do the job well. Some examples of things that you may value may be your family; you may value the exploration of self where college for you is a time and a place for you to explore who you are and what you want to be. Some of you may value financial security, for you higher education is the means to a better paying job or a better paying career where you can move up in your company to again help secure for yourself, for your family. Some of you may have other things you value as well; those are just some brief examples. So take a moment and write down four to six values that you have, you are more than welcome to use the ones that I have mentioned.
• 3:54- 4:00 pause
• Minute 4: (pause from 4:01 until 4:05) ok, now that you hopefully have a list of values as if you think of others as we continue on you are more than welcome to write them down too. The next thing that you want to look at is the environment in which you are going to college. Where do you live? Do you live in the residence halls? Do you live off campus? Do you live in an apartment? Do you live in the country that is far away from town? Do you live in the city? The environment in which where you live can affect how you manage your time. If you are here on campus you are closer to resources, such as computer labs, student services, dining halls. But if you have a family or are caring for an elderly parent being a dependent living on campus isn’t an option for you right now. So you may live off campus, if you live outside of Bowling Green and are commuting into town you are spending that additional money for gas depending on when your classes are structured and you are having to feed that extra
• Minute 5: time into your day. So after you have written down where you live the next thing that I want to talk about is your work. First of all, do you work? If you do have a job is it part time, full time, quarter time? How much of your life is dedicated to work outside of classes? What type is that work? Are you someone who works from home on your own schedule? Are you someone who works shift work and there for the classes that you select may be limited? Do you have a job that is tied to your degree and that your company is paying for you to go back to school so you can move up within the company? Some jobs are more flexible then other while allowing you to leave. I have a student in a night class that I teach who works shift work and uses her vacation time to leave a half hour early on Monday evenings to attend class. She is having to use her vacation time for that. Some jobs will let you out with an agreement
• Minute 6: So the place you work, the kind of relationship you have with your super visor, the structure it is, matters on how you manage your priorities. And the last question, is this by choice or by circumstance? Sometimes in life, where we live or where we work is not necessarily where we want to live or work, but that’s where we are at this moment, that is our circumstance. Some times in life we know we don’t want to live in the city, we want to live out in the country that is our choice. So having that as our choice you have to allow for that extra commuting time. When we are talking about priority management is important to recognize if a condition is a choice or a circumstance. Because if it is a choice, and the consequences of those choices are negative to the point where it outweighs the benefit you have the opportunity to make a different choice. Circumstance obviously you have less control over, any control over it, or have to work to change the circumstances you were in
• Minute 7: The next question we are going to look at is where are you in life? Your age, your marital status, status of dependent or status of self. Nontraditional students can be 18, nontraditional students can be 45. There is obviously going to be different experiences and potential parameters within those age groups. Someone who is single has a different priority structure then someone who is married. Or someone with dependents whether that is a child or an aging parent. They again are then going to have different priorities that they have to manage. The last one there since of self, it is important to know where you are at in life. Are you someone who knows, kind of like the exploration of self back to values. Your since of self is going to let you know exactly what major you want, are you on a V lined path discovering your since of self, are you maybe starting off with general educational exploratory classes or are you someone who is transferring in
• Minute 8: a large chunk of course work say from the KCTCS system. So that sense of self is also going to play a role in what priorities you have. So I am going to pause for a moment here and let you get caught up, make sure you have written down four to six values for your environment. Make sure you have listed where you live, and where you work- if you work, the type, the environment, the hours, the structure. Honestly your boss, are they easy going, do they let you make college a priority? And whether these are by choice or by circumstance. And then the last one, where you are in life. If you are single, married, how old you are, if you have dependents, if you are someone who has unlimited financial means. Are you someone who is on a tight budget? Are you living off of student loans right now and not working? Kind of where you are at in life financially also. So I will pause here before we go on to the next bullet.
• 8:57-9:13 (pause)
• Minute 9: Now that you have a clue as to what are priorities may be, because more than likely your values (if you listed family that is a value) we have priorities for you, something that you value, we have looked at our environment and where we are in life to see how they might influence our priorities. I, myself as you saw off of my pictures do have two children, so for me when it comes to work situations my dependents are something that influence my priorities. I actually, recently transferred positions because of my dependents, while wanting to have more time at home with them. So again, those kinds of things are going to influence what your priorities are. So thinking of those priorities, I want you to start kind of listing your daily activity. So if you would take a moment and kind of reflect on what you do on a daily bases. Some examples are eating,
• Minute 10: bathing, studying, picking up the kids, doing your homework, helping your kids with homework, work if you work on a daily bases, cleaning up the house. You may allow yourself an hour of TV in the evening or you may have some time on the computer and check in with friends. So kind of think of those things that you do on a daily bases. And again we will pause here looking for maybe eight to ten things on a pretty regular or maybe not every day but more than once a week. Kind of those daily activity types. So hopefully you are not stuck doing laundry every day but that would be an example of a daily activity.
• 10:38- 11:00 (pause)
• Minute 11: Alright, hopefully we have a list of activities and now that we have all of this information in front of us we are going to move on toward figuring out how all of these things that we are and things that we do fall into our priorities. If you have enough space on your paper go ahead and draw this chart it will help you move through the activity. We are going to be placing the things we do not just on a daily bases but all of the things we do in general within these four quadrants. The first quadrant is things that are important and urgent. The second quadrant is things that are important but are not urgent. The third quadrant are things that are not important but they are urgent. And quadrant number four are things that are not urgent and not important. So for example, eating is an activity that for most people is important but not urgent you have to eat to survive but unless you are diabetic
• Minute 12: or have another medical issue linked to nutrition, you can choose when you eat, it’s not urgent. While having a flat tire is urgent, you don’t necessarily control when it happens and it is important to get it fixed. You need to be able to get to class. So that is kind of a distinction there. Things that are important and you don’t necessarily have control over when they happen those things become urgent. Things that are important but not urgent are things that you have to do on a daily or some type of daily bases to be successful but you decide when they happen. Most people decide when they study for classes. To a certain degree you can decide when your class schedule is which may be determined by some of those environmental factors we discussed. But for the most part, classes or something that you select the time on and additionally we will actually get to the other quadrants here in a second, so using this concept write down your activities in these quadrants.
• Minute 13: Other examples of important and urgent are medical emergencies, deadline driven projects, work. You know if you are someone who’s not working from home, if you have to be at work at a certain time that is something urgent, you can’t decide when you go into work. So take a moment there and write down some of those, as your writing I will keep talking about some examples that are important but not urgent which would be eating, showering, studying, cleaning, time with family, religious services if you attend, exercise. These are all things that you have to do but you control when, where, and how. These types of activities will vary from student to student quite a bit. One student might be involved in their church, another may be raising a child, another may be married, or one could have a strong commitment to community service. So hopefully as I am speaking now you are writing down things in the not urgent but important quadrants.
• Minute 14: We will pause here momentarily
• 14:02- 14:07 (pause)
• Minute 14: and move on to the quadrants that are not important. Again, we have not important and urgent and not important and not urgent. Some examples of things that are not important and urgent are phone calls, emails, texts, popular events like a concert, other people’s emergencies. The big ones and we will go into that a little bit more. These are things that you feel you have to attend, respond to, or help with because you have a feeling of urgency but they are not necessarily important. Not answering a text from your friend until you are done studying isn’t the end of the world. Just because that tone goes off on your phone does not mean that you have to automatically attend to it right at that moment. So even when that text message is feeling urgent this is a way that we don’t have to respond to it. Another thing that we also see as not important but urgent is
• Minute 15: other people’s emergencies. It is great to help a friend or family member but there should be a shoulder of support or to provide transportation to someone who needs it but these things can’t be done at the expense of your own priorities. Sometimes this can be difficult to do especially with family or close friends. I myself have been in that situation and I can’t say that I have always made the best decision for myself but it is something that I try to do. Sometimes it is hard to tell that that friend that “you know what, you are Tyrone over there have broken up three or four times and as much as I want to be here for this latest one I really need to make sure that my studying for classes is my priority now”. My hope is, and probably this is easier to say then do but if they are a true friend or that family member that never has a ride or and you need to drive them and it is cutting into your study time and your ability to be successful and manage your priorities
• Minute 16: and sitting down and having that conversation with them about other ways that they can get where they need to go, any ways you ways you could share the load with someone else or any ways that they could help you in return. Let’s say you drive them to work in the morning which takes twenty or thirty minutes out of your schedule and they could come over and wash your dishes for you and watch the kids or just kind of help you out for twenty or thirty minutes so you can recoup that time. So kind of mix things a little bit tell you what is not important, urgent and also how you address those. So just make it clear, writing down things that aren’t really important but feel urgent. The next quadrant is things that are not important and not urgent. These are things like video games, TV shows, extensive socializing. Obviously some socializing is important and I would put that in important but not urgent. But over socializing to the point where
• Minute 17: You are neglecting other responsibilities. Those are things that are not important and not urgent. Shopping for recreation would be another example; there is a difference between catching the ESPN highlights and spending an entire Sunday watching sports. I know gasp that we would say that. When you should be doing your homework or getting the household together so you are more productive the next week. So I will pause here for a moment to make sure that you have had a chance to fill out all of your quadrants. And we will talk about what all of these quadrants mean for managing your priorities.
• 17:35- 17:53 (pause)
• Ok, looking at this it kind of labels the quadrants, our important and urgent is our quadrant of necessity.
• Minute 18: When your car breaks down or your tire goes out you have to get it fixed. And when your mom is sick and you have to take her to the doctor you have to get those things done, this is called a necessity. Quadrant two is most often called the quadrant of effectiveness. These are things like eating, cleaning, studying, taking care of dependents, taking care of a partner, making sure your life is productive. These are things that make you an effective individual and also an effective student. Quadrant three is often called the quadrant of deception. I touched on this a little bit in other slides but these are things that we are looking for. These are things that feel urgent but they are not necessarily important. Again, I am going back to that text message tone when you feel that you have to respond but really it is not that urgent. Other people’s needs, we talked about that,
• Minute 19: popular events coming up that everyone is going to, you so want to go to it but what feels urgent you can’t control when that concert is and it is not really important in the grand scheme of things. While that concert might be a great experience and you might have a great time, in the end making sure that you are successful in college is going to have a larger pay out. When you are done with school there will be a larger time that you can spend on recreation. The last quadrant is the quadrant of default and waste. These are the things that we mentioned like excessive socializing, shopping, video games, and excessive TV watching, excessive sports. These things are good in small doses and even to some extent good for stress relief but if they are taking up a large chunk of out time this has become default time, it is wasted time. We haven’t managed our priorities very well
• Minute 20: and have wasted time. Because remember the time that we have doesn’t change. We use that time and use more priorities that makes us more productive. So, now that we know what our priorities are. We have used our values, where we are in life, what we do on a daily bases. We have organized those into our quadrants of necessity, or effectiveness, of deception and waste. So we kind of know where our priorities fall but that doesn’t necessarily tell us how we prioritize our priorities. It is most important to live your life primarily in effectiveness, and necessity. Hopefully, if you are living more in your effectiveness quadrant you can prevent some of the necessity. An example of this is making sure that your car is maintained if you rely on it for transportation
• Minute 21: that means making those doctor’s checkups, not just when the children are ill. And again, there is money and health insurance and other factors that affect that but again, the more time and priorities you put under effectiveness the less necessities you’ll need. So living in those first two quadrants is very important and very little living in quadrant in three and four. Or if you choose to do an activity in three or four understanding the time that you have to devote to the priorities in quadrants one and two. So the first thing that I am going to have you guys do as you organize your activities, and this will be after the presentation I will show you the actual we will do in the next slide. But you want to find out if your actions match your priorities. So you have said that you value let’s say your family, that is a value to you and it is a high priority. Well
the time log what you are going to do is literally write down everything you do, hour by hour.
• Minute 22: If you are looking at finances it is a great tool for finances too, so what you are going to do is write down everything that you do. Actually we will show it to you right now and have that visual. In your time log you can create this yourself, if you want to set this up differently with the same ideas you are literally tracking everything that you do for an entire week, yes that means sleeping , yes that means writing down socializing, TV, hygiene, eating, class work. You want to look and see where your time is actually spent. Sometime people don’t realize the amount of something that they are doing. And sometimes those things that they don’t realize usually fall into deception or waste. I had a student one time that did not realize that he was spending 18 hours a week watching TV, and he couldn’t understand why his grade wasn’t improving.
• Minute 23: Well I had him do a time log to help him out and when he realized how much time he was actually devoting it was easier for him to better manage his priorities. This is kind of the first step to see if you are having priorities that coincide with what you are doing. Once you have figured out if your actual actions you can make adjustments and use this as one of your tools. This is going to be a little bit different for everyone but however you want to accomplish it is fine but make sure that you are physically recording your schedule. Weather you use a planner, weather you set your cell phone for alerts. You have a large family calendar in the kitchen, you are addicted to post-it notes, whatever tool you want to use is fine. I personally recommend planners; I think that they are the best tool. But you want to physically write or type in what you are doing
• Minute 24: As far as deadlines, as far as activities when I was in graduate school I had very little time. I worked full time at the University of Mississippi and I was going to classes and I had a child the first year and two children the second year, so my time was very limited. So honestly I did a time log, I looked at the time I was spending and I had about 2 or 3 hours a week for myself. So I scheduled those in. I used to love Law and Order, so the evening it was on I set aside an hour for myself to watch that and that was one of my 2 or 3 hours a week. You know if you are someone who is juggling that much make sure that you schedule in a couple hours a week, 2 or 3, to give yourself some relaxation and self release time, but schedule it in. If you find yourself waiting until you feel stressed and then taking a breather you have already reached the stress level. If you take the breather first it could help relieve some of that.
• Minute 25: So you have already reached a stress level and as a way to decompress you may end up giving more time to that stress reliever then if you actually scheduled it in. So when I say to schedule I mean everything. You write down when you work, when you go to class, social time, and family time. In my house hold it is Sundays. Sundays are family days, there are no friends, it is strictly our family day. I try to have my work commitments and my household commitments done ahead of time. Now obviously I am at a point in my life where I am just working where many of you are probably working and going to school so I would not necessarily expect you to have that much time but that idea of setting aside family time is important because it lets you know that you have something scheduled in that you value and it won’t sabotage your studying time. So using your time log and your priorities, sit down
• Minute 26: with whatever tool you are going to use and schedule out your entire life. There will be a point where your life won’t be so hectic but for now while you are in school this is where you need to be at. And at sometimes I think that this is more important for nontraditional students then it is for traditional students. You are watching this because you have a lot of commitments. Yet, you are not someone who is right out of high school, 18 years old, and someone who is concerned with having enough money to buy the latest outfits. You are just at a different place in your life more than likely. So acknowledge that, acknowledge your commitment to school and realize that this is your chance to be successful. You have to treat your schedule like a work schedule. Like you go to work and have a set schedule you have to do that same thing at home.
• Minute 27: As you are creating that schedule a neat trick to use is neat is midpoint deadline. In class, if you know on April, 13th that your project is due the idea is a midpoint deadline. Let’s say you tell yourself that your project is due February 13th and you want to have a rough draft done by March 13th, and you want to have it refined by April 10th. So as you are writing down March 13, February 13th and April 10th you are seeing those reminders and you open up your week and suddenly see that in three days that you have a large presentation. Midpoint deadlines are especially important if you are doing online courses, distance courses, night classes. Night classes are easy to put off particularly if you have
• Minute 28: a mixture of night and day classes. Most people complete tasks based on deadlines. So, if you have a class that meets once a week and another class that meets three times a week the homework for the class that meets three times a week is always going to feel more pressing so if you have a night class on Monday, and you get an assignment in the Monday day class you are going to do the assignment in the Monday day class because it is due on Wednesday. And let’s say Wednesday that you have another assignment that is due on that Friday if you are looking at a minimal of what is due first then you will complete it for that day class. And then you find yourself with your Monday night class, which covered an entire week’s worth of content that would have had the same amount of homework you have now waited the entire week to do it and it is now the weekend, and it is due on Monday.
• Minute 29: Particularly with things that are self paced to a certain extent it important to set more deadlines. It is not always for a large project. Let’s say that you have two chapters to read for your night class that means one chapter you have read by Thursday and the second chapter you have read by Monday. You are not waiting until let’s say Saturday or Sunday to read both chapters. Midpoint deadlines are important for all students, but especially if you are a nontraditional student who is utilizing web based courses, night courses, and distant courses. So, looking at WKU’s specific resources. There are some links here, I don’t know if they will be live when you watch this but please write these down. Independent learning is an opportunity that Western offers to do self paced courses
• Minute 30: they can be completed from anywhere between 8 weeks to 9 months. It is a slightly different process, I encourage you to speak to the staff at the independent learning, they are very helpful. Some courses are your traditional correspondence courses where you are writing out a paper and sending it back, some of them are web based or CD courses using blackboard. So there is multiple ways that they deliver the content but basically you are being delivered the content, you are learning it yourself and you are turning it back in for grading. They are very self paced. For the majority if you have a general education course you will be able to get something in the categories for independent learning or distance learning, which we will tough on here in a second. So if you are someone who has a family, has shift work or you don’t live on campus,
• Minute 31: you live in Owensboro or somewhere in Barren County that is a great way of learning if you feel comfortable learning without a faculty member present if you think you will be successful in that type of class don’t take the risk to have your GPA penalized, find other ways to fit your classes in. Independent learning is one component of distance learning, this also is composed of web based courses and we do have complete degrees you can do through distance learning. I currently am the Advising Associate here in Potter College, I know for us our Sociology degree, our History degree are completely online. Either through distance learning of some sort, or through Independent learning. There are even graduate degrees that are completely online. I just know about my own college. I encourage you to go to the distance learning website if you are searching for a major and want to come to campus and are thinking that this will be an obstacle on your success
• Minute 32: complete distance learning is something that you can be successful in. Another good sight here at WKU to check out is the REOL, Reaching Every Adult Learner website is Independent learning and distance learning, additionally REOL has links to the child care facility at the University. If you are unable to get into the child care facility at the University there is also kind of a day care resource center available where you put in the parameters of what kind of child care you are looking for and they provide a list of child care facilities around the area. For myself, I knew when I moved here, I wasn’t from the area, and I was really I the dark as to what my options were and what I needed to check out. But I found that resource to be very helpful.
• Minute 33: The REOL webpage also has a link to financial aid including VA benefits, if you are a veteran and you want to find out how that process works for you and want to get your school covered. There is also a link for carpooling and it is run through our parking and transportation department. If you are someone who is commuting from far away and gas, as the prices continue to rise, a factor that may impact your ability to come to class you may also want to look into car pooling. When looking into career services, I know myself when I returned to college I went first as a traditional student right out of high school; I took a break then and returned right after I had my son. I took about a 2 and a half year break. I knew my mindset was very different as a traditional student verses a nontraditional student. As a traditional student I went for about a year and a half. I had changed my major of thought about it almost every time I took a new class.
• Minute 34: As where I was a nontraditional student I was very focused on making sure that I had a career for post graduation. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to have career of I’m sorry a major, who’s title corresponds to a career. Let’s say I want to take a nursing major and be a nurse there is also broad based degree programs that give you a general skill. Communications is one, but you have to know what you are going to do with these broad based degrees afterwards. And career services come in as a way to help navigate that, as well as your academic advisor with different majors. So the real website has a lot of information here that it could link you to, and I would advise you to take some time and check out the services that it offers. Another one, I am going to say that I am not as knowledgeable on, not being originally from Bowling Green but I would encourage you to check out are the community organizations. Not just in Bowling Green but if you live in a different town, see what is available. I am familiar with community action here in Bowling Green, I know that they
• Minute 35: offer some services like the GO Transit for someone who lives in Bowling Green and is concerned about commuting back and forth to a certain extent. When I lived in my hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri it helped me pay for part of my college, they offered supplies I guess I would call it. Not text books but other types of materials. You might also want to check with faith based organizations. Some f those have grants or programs that can help you be successful in school. With community organizations, you are kind of thinking nonprofit type based, a good place to start both to find out what type of organizations there are in town, and if you would like to give back and serve in a service role is the WKU alive center. They are located on the bypass, right past the intersection
• Minute 36: right when you turn into campus is the WKU alive center. They are kind of a clearing house for all of the service groups in the community, the area. They help people to connect to those services, and help people to provide to those services. That would be a good place to start, to see if they could provide you with that information, to see If they could point you in the right direction. So that is the content of the presentation, I hope that you have taken away something as a nontraditional student in your priority management of your time. I want to remind you again to make sure that you are spending the majority of your time in your necessity and effectiveness quadrants, that you are being aware of those things that can lead you into the deception and waste quadrants and hat you are keeping a time log. I would also encourage you to recomplete the time log, it helps you to kind of evaluate where you are at.
• Minute 37: Once you know what your priorities are based on where you are and what you value, and you have placed those priorities in quadrants and you see where you actually do spend your time I encourage you to use a tool, specifically a planner or if you have something that works better for you as long as you are writing down or typing in what you do on almost a continues bases. You are almost turning that time log into your blueprint for your schedule. Once you know what your schedule is making sure that you are using your time wisely, making sure that your plan for success is planned out so it is within a controlled amount and not coming at a time when you are stressed and can kind of bloom into a larger amount of time. Making sure that you are using midpoint deadlines so big projects don’t creep up on you specifically if you are taking night classes, or courses that are independent learning or distance learning where you are not necessarily in front of an instructor
• Minute 38: On a continual base. Those midpoint deadlines can be very helpful. And finally, since you are a student here at WKU accessing the resources that are available. Like going t the REOL website that will link you to multiple resources including Independent learning and distance learning. And also, if you are already aware of community organizations, and if you’re not checking with the WKU alive center and seeing if there are other organizations in town that can help you be successful. They may help with finances, car pooling options; they might help with child or adult care, if you are someone who is caring for dependents. So make sure you know all of the resources that are available to you.
• Minute 39: Again, I thank you for your time. I wish you continued success here at Western. My office is at FAC 200 currently feel free to stop by if you have any additional questions and also to utilize all of the wonderful resources provided here at the TLC and the AARC. I did not touch on those because I am sure that you have been more then exposed to all of the options and they really do provide some great resources. Thank you for your time.
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