Hate rushing through all the last minute work before an assignment deadline? Always find yourself cramming and blindly memorising your study material the night before an exam, and just wishing that you had started studying earlier?
Well, here’s an answer to that problem — time management!
With all the freedom that college has to offer, one of the hardest things to learn is managing your time effectively. Trust us when we say that this can make all the difference in the world.
Here are some of the most effective ways you can learn how to manage your most crucial resource — time!
1. Always Have a Calendar and Use It Frequently
The first step is always to have a calendar with key dates marked clearly. This allows you to keep track of key dates, such as coursework deadlines, exam dates, or even things like social commitments and basketball tournaments.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper calendar, or if it’s on your phone. The key is to use it frequently and diligently, marking deadlines of every assignment and dates of your midterms so that you’re never caught off guard. Don’t jumble up your schedule, or you’ll find yourself scrambling.
While you can use almost ANY tool, we recommend Sunrise Calendar, a beautifully designed app that’s free on both Android & iPhone. It’s great is because it works well with other apps, including Facebook Events, Google Calendar and Evernote (which, by the way, is a great note-taking tool).
2. Plan Ahead and Prioritise
Once you’ve marked down all the important dates on your calendar, it’s important that you plan ahead and prioritise important tasks.
Midterm coming in a couple of months? Schedule in some study time at various dates, dissecting them into topics. Assignment deadline around the corner? Break them down into smaller chunks. Always plan backwards from the deadline to see how much time is needed.
But what if you have several deadlines and commitments looming in front of you?
That’s when prioritising is important! One technique that you can try is “ABC”, which categorises tasks in the order of priority, i.e. “A” as urgent and important, “B” as important and “C” as least important. This allows you to be crystal clear on what you should be working on next, so that you aren’t doing unnecessary and inconsequential things during critical times.
3.Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Systems
Everyone has their own specific and unique way of systematically organising their time. What may work for the student sitting next to you may not be the best method for you. So keep trying and testing new systems until you find one that works best for you!
Here are some systems that you can try:
- GTD (Get Things Done): This method focuses on dividing bigger tasks into smaller tasks that be done easily and immediately. Simple yet effective.
- Pomodoro Technique: Work for 25 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes. This ensures that your mind is laser focused, and minimises the time you spend procrastinating.
- Jerry Seinfield’s Don’t Break The Chain: For each day you complete a task (whether it’s just 10 mins of revision or writing 2 paragraphs of your assignment), you mark an “X” on the calendar. Your aim is to have a string of “Xs” and not break it.
4. Make Use of “Downtimes”
Waiting for a friend who is late to an appointment? In a line at the bank, post office or the hottest new restaurant? Taking the bus home but stuck in horrendous traffic?
Instead of wasting your time playing Candy Crush or surfing Facebook for the 9th time that day, make good use of the time by doing something productive! If you have your to-do list on your phone, you can review tasks and deadlines so that you’re mentally prepared. Or how about catching up on some revision, proofreading your assignment or organising your calendar.
The less time you waste during your these moments, the more time you’ll have later!
5. Be Flexible in Your Schedule
Sometimes, not everything will go according to plan.
Birthday celebrations, ad-hoc social events or family obligations may come up and throw you off your schedule, so you have to be flexible and spontaneous. It isn’t wrong to want some fun and enjoy the moment once in a while, so don’t just follow the schedule like a robot.
Just remember to plan for last-minute events or for things to go wrong.
6. Relax and Take the Time to Reward Yourself
After all is said and done, remember to reward yourself after all the hard work and midterms!
Over-exerting yourself can cause breakdowns and be detrimental to your health, so slot in some time in your schedule to relax. Plan an outing with your friends or go on a short trip. Remember that time will be worthless if you can’t keep yourself healthy to spend it!