Managing time is a hurdle that every individual has to navigate, even after finishing university. Now that exam season has arrived, it quite easily tops being the most stressful times of the year. On top of lectures, coursework and socials, study time needs to be accounted for. According to a Ted Talk given by Laura Vanderkam in 2017, the idea of time management was broken down modestly into “looking at the whole of one’s time and seeing where you can fit in the good stuff”.
The simplest way of thinking about time management is by placing it into four categories. The first being time that can’t be negotiated such as family events, lectures, birthdays, holidays and so on. Prioritising is key – by pencilling in these key dates it makes it easier to place more leisurely events in between.
Similarly, we can all understand that dreaded feeling where we’ve looked up at the time and realised that it’s already 5.30 in the evening and little or no work has been done. Categorising the time that is in definite excess means an end to that dreaded feeling. These are places in a week where there is a guarantee that the whole day will be free. A space where it is plausible to spend a long amount of time on a specific task. Time can be dissipated here in a more efficient manner. This could be a free day with no lectures, or a Saturday morning before work. Some tasks are better for certain times of the day, and personal time is taken into account in this case. Placing emphasis on the practicality of time is important, for example, perhaps studying after a full day of lectures or going to the gym straight after a training session is a bad idea. Finally, once all the necessary elements of a day has become important the leisure time can be filled in. If categorised and prioritised correctly there is room to socialise and be successful at the same time.
There are many tools that can help you manage your time. Digital apps, such as Rescue Time and Focus Booster, are prime examples. The best tool for me has been keeping a diary: both a physical one, and sometimes a digital one on Google Calendar. The idea is that it is accessible when you are on the go, and I can make edits to my schedule as and when. I like to plan my day in the week, then every morning add any new task that needs to be done. I draw tick boxes in my diary and fill them once complete. It becomes an unwritten contract with myself, as having a physical box to fill in when a task is completed makes me more positive, productive and boosts confidence within myself.
Sticking to a managed time table can be hard for a lot of people. In order for time management to work it has be realistic, allowing a fair distribution of your energy. Ensuring that there is time for rest and time for creativity, as well as getting the essentials done, is key. Allowing yourself to have room for failure is important too, not every task can always be completed. The best way to deal with this is to allow yourself to reflect on what you have completed that day or even that week. It’s easier to take into account what you have accomplished and take that as a positive, rather than berating yourself for what you haven’t.
Time management is one of the most essential skills to anybody looking to be successful in life. It is so important when you are on a path of self-discovery; it can give you the time needed to find out who you are. Let this exam season be a learning curve and not a deterrent.
by Shannon McDonald