Time Management

Prioritise /plan

“I just don’t have the time”.”There just isn’t enough time in the day”.At some point in our lives we have all found ourselves making the above the statements.

Lets be honest! The hardest thing to do is plan and manage our time. Some of us are compulsive planners (So all we get done is planning). While some of us live in the plan free-zone (We just don’t see the need to plan). Yet time is our biggest obstacle when things don’t get done.

Benjamin Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”

This is so true, but knowing how to plan effectively is just as important.So here are some guidelines

Prioritise your tasks (very important).

Decide which tasks are most important and should be completed first. What is important is not always urgent and what is urgent is not always important. When it comes to assignments choose what is urgent even when it’s less important.

Example: In a choice between reading for an essay due in four weeks or preparing an oral presentation in two weeks, choose to prepare the oral presentation

Plan, Plan, Plan!!!

Use long term and short term goals to direct your plans

1. Long term planning:

Use a yearly planner that will allow you to plan the semester ahead of time and allocate due dates. Also insert any other important commitments and make sure your calendar is in plain sight so that you have a constant reminder.

  • Place the planner where you have easy access to it
  • Fill in the important dates of when assignments are due and exams are scheduled.
  • Allocate the amount of time each assignment or commitment will require. BE REALISTIC!
  • Allow for extra workload. Assignments often pile up around the same dates. When this happens, be sure to start tasks even earlier than previously planned.
  • Set start dates for each assignment AND stick to them!!!!           

2. Short-term planning: 
  • Do not be misguided into thinking that studying is just about long 3 hour sessions. OH NO!
  • Short time slots are just as necessary as long ones.
  • Learning how to use time slots effectively will help you to be more productive with your time. Below is a guide on the different time slots and the type of task you can accomplish in each of them.
  • Using the shorter time slots will shorten the longer tasks.
Short time slots (15-30 minutes) Medium time slots (1 hour or less) long time slots (2-3 hours or more)
  • Review lecture notes
  • Complete short readings
  • Develop essay/assignment plans
  • Proof read assignments
  • Work on the presentation of assignments
  • Revise for exams
  • Detailed note reviewing
  • Longer readings
  • Gathering information
  • Readings for assignments or weekly class readings
  • Writing a first draft of your assignment
  • Editing an assignment
  • Revise for exams
  • Study for exams
  • Researching for assignments
  • Complete extensive amounts of reading
  • Write up assignments with comprehensive details

Don’t leave it for the last minute

  • Little tasks form part of the bigger picture so get going straight away. Start somewhere, anywhere, just start. DON’Tput it off!
  • This is your life. You decide the amount of time you invest in your studies. Put your life into perspective and remember why you are doing what you are doing.
  • There are soooo many reasons why we delay tasks. Below are some common reasons and solutions to help youSTOP DELAYING.
Reason for delaying Solution
Feeling overwhelmed  -The workload seems too much. All you seem to do is freeze. You don’t know where or how to start.
  • Get started anywhere. Do something even if it is small. Just knowing that you have made some kind of progress will reduce your anxiety and encourage you to keep going.
  • Make a “to do” list in order of importance and take one step at a time.
  • Be sure to break work into small achievable chunks.
  • Commit a certain amount of time to completing a specific task and take a break once you have completed it. You may even want to reward yourself.
Procrastination – That word we all know too well. Its time to get cracking, but you always finding something else to do
  • This one is going to take some WILL POWER.
  • Decide that there is no time like the present to get started.
  • Then GET STARTED. Remember that something is always better nothing.
  • Get a plan going and get going on the plan.
  • Remember: If large piles of work overwhelms you, break them into chunksand then tackle the task.
  • Set goals and only move from one thing to another once you have completed the goal in sight.
Need for perfection – You are a perfectionist and if its not going to be perfect, you just can’t do it.
  • With this one you need to change the goal. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim to produce something complete first. You can always fine tune it if you have the time afterwards.
  • If you concerned that your writing will just not be good enough or even just good at all then its time to ask for HELP. Ask your lecturer if you struggling to understand something or get in touch with a tutor or student services.There is nothing wrong with asking for a little bit of assistance.
Daydreaming and drifting – So you have started but remaining focused is the problem
  • Check your energy levels and concentration
  • Make sure you are hydrated and well fed, this will help your concentration.
  • Take a break every hour or go for a short walk
  • When you drift visualise a red stop light, keep this image in mind for a few seconds, now change the light to green and go back to work.
Throwing a pity party for yourself – You hate the module, the work is too much and too hard and you just want to throw in the towel
  • Remind yourself of your motives for studying and your goals for the future.
  • Ask for advice. If you struggling with course work ask your lecturer or contact a tutor. If you just need to speak to someone contact student services.
  • Whatever you do, don’t just give up. Speak to someone.

How to chuck:

Step 1: Sort your tasks according to what is most urgent and most important.
Step 2: Break the work up further into short/long/difficult/easy tasks. In this way you can manage a large sum of work by completing smaller tasks.
Step 3: Say Voila!! You have successfully completed chunking.

When to take breaks
  • Don’t try to do everything in one go.
  • After completing a certain chunk of work take a coffee break, a quick walk or anything that will take your mind off the current task for a little while.
  • Commit yourself to only taking breaks when you have made some kind of progress. This can be anything from planning an essay to writing up 10% of an assignment or even completing an assignment.

Personalise your time management

These guidelines are not “one size fits all”. You need to realise that time management is about more than managing your study times, it is about managing your life. These guidelines should be tailored and personalised to what fits your life.
In conjunction with the guidelines provided, consider the following and don’t try fooling yourself. Be honest with yourself and be realistic:
  1. What commitments do you have in your life at the moment?
  2. What is the time required for each commitment?
  3. How much time can you offer to your studies?
  4. When is the best time for you to work on your studies? When can you concentrate best? Are you a night person or a morning person?
  5. What are the best conditions for you to work under? Do you prefer silence, soft music in the background or the noise of busyness all around.
  6. Where do you work best? Do you need to be in a learning environment such as a library, at a desk or in a comfy couch? WARNING! BEDS ARE USUALLY NOT A GOOD IDEA.
  7. Do you prefer working on one assignment at a time or several assignments at once?
Knowing your own preferences and what works for you will make these time management guidelines more effective. Remember that knowing your strengths will help you to be more effective in your progress. But also know your weaknesses and find a way to develop in them.

Lastly, always make time for yourself, your family and friends and remember to HAVE FUN!!!