July 2012

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work up the ladder Keep Your Head Above Water Don't let your to-do list drown you. Keep these time- management tips from Barger on hand to help you tackle it all Q& A Expert 32 BRAVA Magazine July 2012 As throngs of adults head back to college to advance their careers, Sharon Barger from the University of Phoe- nix explains why building your time-management skills today sets you up for success tomorrow By Cammy Albert Sharon Barger sees it all the time. A former psychology lecturer and current chair of social sciences at the University of Phoenix Madison campus, she often encounters returning stu- dents struggling to juggle it all—homework, career, family and more. Her answer? Develop strategic habits that won't just help you survive school, but will become an asset on the job as well. How big has the population of nontraditional female students at your campus become and what kinds of degrees are they often seeking? I would say that about 70 percent of the population of returning students is female. This is partly because more programs are easily accessible today through both online and on- campus options. Careers in health care are working out especially well for women, and it's a growing field in which [many are] striving to obtain management positions. What are some of the main challenges women face when returning to school? Many are working full-time and taking care of kids, so it's difficult for them to set aside time to study. We teach our students early on that they are in school to better themselves and carving out some time for their studies is essential. How crucial are time-management skills to success in a new career? I encourage my students to nail these skills down early because they can use them in their home and in their current jobs. Transitioning into a management position at their job be- comes easier if they already have time management skills because they will be comfortable with the multi-tasking involved in a career. Identify your barriers: Look at all the different variables in your life that may interfere with your time. When are you getting distracted? When do you feel like you're wasting time? Be aware that these barriers exist, but don't let them defeat you. Take the reigns: Reflect on your habits and attitude to make sure you're not getting in your own way. To succeed in managing your time, you have to commit to organizing your life and consistently make it a priority. Beat back stress: Keep track of your stress level throughout the week and identify if you're comfortable with how you're feeling. If you find that stress is slowing you down or creating a distraction, take simple steps to reduce it—such as making time for a quick workout or taking a moment to relax. Be healthy: In the mix of daily tasks, health often takes a back seat as other priorities take over. But all it takes is one bout of an illness to jeopardize your ability to accomplish whatever is on your to-list. In addition to eating healthy, get moving. If you can't find time for both fitness and your favorite activities, try multi-tasking while you get fit! Listen to an audio book while you take a walk or watch a favorite TV show while on the treadmill. Keep others in the loop: Let your family know your schedule for the week. A great way to do this is to create a visual aid—such as a wall calendar in your home—with your assignments and the tasks you need to get done. Make it a team effort by having your kids add their weekly events on the schedule as well. Photo by Tyler Robbins

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