Time is valuable to everyone, but time management can be difficult. You’ve probably had times when you’ve wished for more time (most likely at 11pm the night before an assignment deadline…)
For some reason, though, the closer a deadline gets, the better we become at time management.
For a few hours, days, or even weeks, we get super productive.
I remember back when I was much much younger: I didn’t start writing this essay until the night before the deadline. Most people have been in this situation it’s Thursday, you have an essay due in on Friday.
Now imagine this: you have classes all day on Thursday, and on Thursday evening, you are travelling to another city to go to a concert!
On top of that, your birthday is the next day, the same day as the essay deadline.
Now that sounds like a nightmare, right?
If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t. I would have managed my time better. In fact, I would have used the following five tips to help me!
I want to show you five small changes to make your life and time management easier.
Starting a project or homework is often the hardest part, and it only becomes harder the longer you wait.
If you start it now, you will save time later. For the first draft of anything I do, I just write. I don’t worry about grammar or spelling – I just aim to get my ideas down.
I don’t even write on the computer. I just start writing in my paper pad, and change things as I type it up.
As a university student, there are many adventures to be had by saying, ‘yes’. You have to learn when to say ‘no’, though.
When you accept too many offers, you lose time that could be spent on an essay or presentation. Cancelling a party to revise for an exam might not be fun at the time, but trust me, cancelling a holiday to retake an exam is even less fun.
It is important to have fun, but time management means that you should balance work and play. One method you could try is what I call Limited Time Productivity.
If you have a large project, you could benefit from dividing it into smaller tasks. A dissertation, for example, might have a 15,000 word requirement.
That’s a lot of words.
Breaking it down into five 3,000 word chapters suddenly makes it easier. That’s just five essays that you need to write. It still seems like a lot, but it seems a lot friendlier.
Large projects seem less intimidating when you divide it into smaller tasks.
When you plan your time, it becomes easier to finish tasks because you have a guide to follow.
Timetables become easier to follow if you use them regularly. But, timetables are hard to keep to unless it’s a work commitment.
Making daily or weekly mission lists work much better for me. A mission list is something that you need to get done in order to feel like you have achieved your goal. Goals like, reading two chapters, exercising for an hour, and writing 400 words would be good on a mission list.
If you are tired, go to bed. If you are hungry, eat something. If you feel stressed, do some exercise or relax.
Your health is always the most important thing and you will be more productive when you are not tired or hungry.
Listen to your body and know when it’s time to take a break.
If you apply these five time management techniques to your current study plan, you may see immediate improvements in your efficiency and health. Time is the most valuable currency, so spend it wisely.
Do you know someone who’s always in a rush? Send them this!
Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.