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POSEC: The Secret to Succeeding in School

Who doesn't have problems managing their time now and again? That's all the more true if you're a college student; the weight of classes, homework, tests, employment and social obligations can prove positively crushing. But Learn.org's Student Saver has got you covered with one simple word that could help melt the stress away.

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POSEC Explained

Since Benjamin Franklin methodically tracked his day-to-day actions in a notebook, time management has been a virtue that many - especially enterprising employers - consider as American as apple pie or, well, Benjamin Franklin. Lots of different methods exist that can help you work smarter, but when it comes to making a memorable impression, nothing beats an acronym.

And so we have POSEC, a method of time management meant to emulate famed psychologist Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. POSEC offers five tips for maximizing your work output, one for each letter in its name:

  • Prioritize
  • Organize
  • Streamline
  • Economize
  • Contribute

Though 'organize' gets its own spot in POSEC, really it's the key to the whole thing. The idea behind POSEC is that you lay out the things you have to do by order of importance and tackle them in that order. That applies on both the macro and micro levels. For instance, POSEC wants you to prioritize everything you've got to do in a day/week/month, but also to streamline the smaller parts of even mundane tasks like washing dishes or cleaning your desk for maximum efficiency.

Even extremely long-term goals fall under POSEC's domain. For instance, followers of POSEC believe you should economize your far-reaching efforts and aspirations, putting them at the bottom of your list of priorities but still making time to contribute to them little by little (not unlike a savings account, perhaps). By 'paying in' to these long-term plans now, you lay the seeds for a richer future.

POSEC Critiqued (kind of)

A word of warning: POSEC may not be for everybody. If you have trouble delineating your goals in a clear, achievable fashion, this structured system could definitely help you out. However, if you're already a highly goal-oriented, Type-A person who feels like there's too much to be done in both short and long-term, maybe POSEC's rigid economy isn't for you. For instance, the tenets of POSEC suggest placing long-term personal improvement and skill acquisition into long-term, less important categories. However, occasionally when stress is at its highest it's crucial to take a break from all the short-term, 'important' projects and just do something for yourself.

Then again, maybe POSEC's usefulness (or lack thereof) all depends on what you consider important. No doubt many business executives use it to emphasize to their employees that the most crucial (highest revenue-generating) projects have to get done right away, and that's fine. But as a student, there could be other things you value more than work in the traditional sense - joining a compelling extracurricular activity, making new friends or learning a not totally practical skill that you've been itching to master for some time. And that's fine too. Regardless of your goals, it couldn't hurt to clearly lay them out, rank them and devise a strategy of attack. But if POSEC seems too structured to you and only increases your stress, you can let it go - time management, after all, is ultimately a wholly personal endeavor.

After-class work got you down? Here's five tips for saving time on homework.