Time management for students
Plan, plan and then plan some more
Robert Leslie Fielding
Robert Leslie Fielding says one of the best methods to manage your hours of study is by creating good lists and prioritizing.
One thing new students at university find out is that there isn’t enough time to do everything you want to do — let alone for everything you have to do.
That is the first step — sorting out your life into the two sorts of things.
The things you have to do and the things you want to do.
This division may seem unreal to you — you may think that that both lists are equally important, and you are right — they are.
So the first thing to think about is what you really want to do — what is your main goal?
If it is getting a good qualification, you probably know that what you have to do is more important than what you want to do.
If your main goal is to have fun at university, then the second list is the one for you.
Now try fusing the lists into one — this means combining work and leisure so that you come out cheerful as well as successful.
Get things down to one list:-
What I really want to do. Then prioritise.
Sub-divide your list into immediately important to complete and not so immediately important to complete.
Now you face what’s right in front of you and what is farther back.
Keep a diary/agenda — make it a visual one that is big enough to look at as soon as you wake up.
Put your timetable on the wall next to your bed — it’s the first thing you see when you wake up — the times of your first lectures are in bold and highlighted, so they stand out.
You wake up at 7.05am and your first lecture today isn’t until 10am — you have time.
You wake up at 7.05am and your first lecture today is at 9am — you ought to get up — take a shower — get yourself ready — eat something — collect everything you need.
You wake up at 7.05am and you haven’t got any lectures this morning — yippee! This morning is for other things — for you to catch up — do the things you need to do.
It’s for all the usual things — washing, eating, all that stuff you do when you get up — but you now have a bit of time to do that other stuff you’ve been putting off or else haven’t had time to do.
Prioritise — shops open at 9am; library at 8.30am. Action — take books back to short loan (or pay a fine) and then go to the supermarket to pick up what you need to live.
Keep a list on your mirror or somewhere you look at regularly — jot stuff down when you think of it (toothpaste is running low — milk is off — coffee is low) — add them to the list as you come to them while they are running low — not when they’re finished — you’ve got to brush your teeth before you go out. Coffee? You can get a cup at the place next to the library.
Prioritise and think. Be constantly on your guard — after a while it will become second nature. For more important stuff, write it down on something you look at regularly.
Get a notice board on your wall — to the left of the washbasin mirror — you look at that fairly often, don’t you? Put a smaller version on the back of your door so you see it when you’re leaving your room.
Add to the notice board — remove stuff that’s ancient — write in new stuff — use post-its and use colours to highlight important deadlines.
Fill your day. Don’t run about like a headless chicken though — give yourself enough time to do the things you need to do. And give yourself a break — sit down — talk to friends over a coffee. Don’t have too many breaks or coffees. Eat regularly. Don’t let yourself get hungry or thirsty. Visit the bathroom as often as you need to (obvious enough, but you’d be surprised how many people get uncomfortable because they haven’t found time to visit the toilet).
Plan your day around the places you are timetabled to go — they are the musts on any of your lists of places to be at certain times. Remember, being late isn’t an option.
Lateness gets to you — you feel rushed, impatient, flustered, self-conscious, rude, and you miss things. A lot of important stuff comes early on in the lesson — don’t expect the lecturer to change just because you’re always late — she’s got deadlines, too.
- The writer is a lecturer of English at the UAE University
Keep track of time
Critical to doing things on time is remembering them with enough time to spare. Sounds obvious but your memory needs help sometimes.
1. Write down everything important
2. Abbreviate if you can
3. Place everything you’ve written down in a prominent place
4. Associate ideas
- Wednesdays mean no classes in the afternoon
- Mondays and Tuesdays’ classes start at 9am
- 8.30am library opens; 10pm library closes
- Lunch costs about Dh25
- 6.30–9pm means time for studying
- Lunch is at 1pm every day
- Keep some free time
- Stop for one hour between 1 and 2.30pm every day
- Rest after 9pm (Working too late will ruin your sleep)
- Keep time for friends — and they’ll keep time for you
- Friends who won’t wait aren’t good friends
- Big swats are no fun — permanently serious swats should be avoided
- Wasters are also a serious problem. Don’t become one and don’t hang out with them — you’ll soon become one if you’re not careful
- A good friend doesn’t mind you having to work sometimes
- Don’t lose your grip on time — control it/don’t let it control you