What are the most precious things in university? You surely have your own list. But Digital Senior is very sure that there must be one item on the list (and probably towards the top), which is “time”. All the wonderful things won’t happen without time: friends, love, study and play. Time makes them possible. Hence knowing how to make good use of your time actually makes you live a more meaningful, more fun and better life. So what are the secrets to taking control of your time and life in university?
Be realistic with your commitment
The first step starts with the start of the semester. That is a period when you need to plan your timetable and semester commitment in other areas like your club activities. Avoid the usual tendency of being overly ambitious at the start, only to realize you can’t actually handle so much commitment. Are you sure you want to overload for study? Can you balance that with taking some easier electives? Joining three CCAs sounds cool, but does that compromise the quality of your experiences when you spread yourself too thinly?
When you are free, like at the start of the semester, you think you have all the time in the world. However, when multiple meetings, projects and quizzes all weigh on you, you realize 24 hours a day are never enough. Sometimes, it is not that you do not have the ability to manage your time well. It is simply a problem of over-commitment. Be realistic.
How to study while you are busy?
One common problem of busy students is that they feel they do not have enough time for study. Again, follow tip 1 to see if the problem still occurs. If it does, don’t despair. If you really have a hectic schedule during the semester, make use of quizzes and mid-terms as check points for your study.
How does it work? Very simple. You only need to make sure you attend lectures and tutorials, ask questions after classes and complete your homework. You don’t have to read textbooks line by line or do extra exercises. The minimum commitment will keep you on track. When there is a quiz or mid-term coming, spend more time on study one week in advance. Quizzes give you the motivation to study more productively and your grasp of difficult concepts will be enhanced during that short one week. After the quiz, you can return to your minimum study commitment until the exam revision week comes. By doing this, you make sure you have good quiz scores and won’t feel “there’s too much to catch up” when the “doomsday” arrives.
Is it about time or productivity?
Though we can’t increase the number of hours in a day, we can improve our productivity in every hour. Do you feel distracted when studying with your friends? Then make a request to study alone (and join them for lunch!) Are you forever connected to the Internet and check your Facebook every ten minutes? Or do you sleep too late every day and end up being unproductive the next? There is virtually no limit on increasing your productivity. Make your every minute count!
It is also a good idea to exercise regularly. Doing exercise seems to take time away from you, but it refreshes your mind and strengthens your body. In the long run, exercising gives you greater mental focus and stamina for work. If you tend to feel lethargic during the day, doing some workout may be the cure.
Urgent versus important
If you have many different things to handle, it is always good to have a secretary beside you. There are many phone apps that provide the planner function. Plan your next day before you sleep, so you feel everything is under your control.
What if there is conflict in schedule? The matrix of importance and urgency can be of great help. Some things are important, but not so urgent, such as reading a good book. Some things are urgent, but not so important, such as passing your room key to your roommate. Then you should pass the key first before you open your book. That little urgent thing can be quite irritating a mental burden if you keep procrastinating. Of course, there are things which are important and urgent, which should be your absolute priority, and things that are neither, which can be left to the last.
Have a vision
The urgent-important discussion above can also help you realize things that are of long-term importance to you, things that usually belong to the “important but not urgent” category. They may be developing a good exercise routine. They may be learning a new music instrument or language. Because they are not urgent, you often push them aside to handle urgent stuff first, only to realize, for example, your newly bought guitar has been lying on your shelf for too long.
This is Digital Senior’s last advice to you: have a vision. Don’t get bogged down in daily tasks. Writing a proposal for your CCA or completing your tutorial questions can be important, but they may do little to contribute to your long-term development. Set aside some time to achieve your long-term plan on a regular basis. That’s the most difficult part in time management, but you will be rewarded handsomely if you transform yourself into a different person a few months or years down the road. Invest in your time.
Just treat your time as your money. It can be consumed, invested, managed or wasted. Everyone has more or less equal balance in their “time account”. Grow your asset wisely to have a meaningful life.