Time Management: Not Just for Work Anymore

Time Management: Not Just for Work Anymore

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Kristin Simonetti
August 12, 2015

In this installment of TWC's Alumni Spotlight Series, Steven Rodriguez '13 explains why time management is a top-five professional development tool - and shares how he's used it to advance his own career.



You're reading the words "time management" and probably glazing over. You've heard this before, right? Maybe you're flashing back to a meeting with your first boss as she proclaimed, "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late." But time management affects much more than a prompt arrival. Structuring time - inside and outside of work - can be the difference between career advancement and career stagnation, says Steven Rodriguez '13, an online marketing specialist. It's what helped him go from restaurant staffer to a marketing job after relocating to Washington a year and a half ago. He shares some simple ways you can find that elusive "free time" in your schedule - and use it to push yourself forward.


Why is time management so important?


Time management is essential, especially for those just graduating from school. School is such a nice, insular place. You go in and know exactly what classes you can take, how many credits you need and about how long it takes to achieve your goal. When you get out into the real world, you've got none of that support.


Poor time management can manifest in being late for work - but you say it can damage your career in other ways. How?


When you have a job, you're hired to do a specific function - so you focus on being good at fulfilling that function. If you just do your regular duties, you'll probably hold on to your job. But if you want to grow and move up in that company or another, you have to show you're capable of extra things, that you have different skills - especially leadership. And you may not be exposed to the kind of activities and experiences that develop those skills at your workplace.


That doesn't sound too hard. So why do people struggle with it?


Because they think that they have no time when they really do. I see this a lot among my friends. They keep all their non-work time scheduled in their head: Wake up in the morning, have breakfast, commute, work, come home, have dinner, sleep. They say they have no free time. I felt that way too - until I started jotting stuff down.


What do you mean?


I got a little Moleskine notebook and on Sundays started reflecting on the coming week: what daily tasks needed to be done, and what two or three big "rocks" did I want to accomplish? By charting exactly what I needed to get done and when, I would find free pockets of time - like 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday or 8 to 9 a.m. on a Saturday. Then I'd reserve those times to work toward those "rocks." I put them in my calendar so I know I can't slack off.


How has taking these notes paid off for you?


When I first moved to D.C., I was working in restaurants. It was the first job I could find. But I was feeling stuck - I wanted a different career. I kept thinking I didn't have time, but once I started charting my week, I saw exactly what time I had. I began using that time to go to events, reach out to new contacts and apply to a certain number of jobs. That paid off when I found my first job at a startup. Once I started holding myself accountable for my free time, I got myself unstuck.


I'm sold. But I'm not much of a note-taker. Do you have any recommendations for apps that help manage time?


For work, I use some online tools like Trello. The client I'm working with uses that. You can also use EverNote, which syncs with just about every device. You can write a note in your phone and find it on your phone, computer or iPad. Google and Sunrise Calendar are also good apps to use.


Interested in learning more? Send Steven an email at hi@stevenrodriguez.com or visit his website, www.stevenarodriguez.com.


About the Alumni Spotlight Series: Produced by the TWC Communications Team, these articles promote the achievements and contributions of our alumni by giving them the opportunity to share insights and expertise with the TWC community. Articles will be posted to this website on an occasional basis.

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More