By Cherry Chun, 2nd Year Life Sciences student
Throughout my time at university, I’ve noticed that one of the factors that played a significant role in my stress level was time (or lack of it). Being able to better manage my time allows me to accomplish things more efficiently and effectively. Although I still find time management quite difficult to juggle between academics, clubs, and life’s other commitments, here are some useful tips and tricks I’ve picked up throughout my struggles at university.
Make a Timetable for Each Week
Every weekend, I plan the following week’s tasks. For example, I jot down (in point form) an anatomy quiz on Tuesday, a biology assignment on Thursday, and a statistics midterm on Friday. Doing this helps me put into perspective what I need to complete and prioritize for that week. I feel as though this helps to reduce the stress that comes with assignments and tests by allowing me to feel more prepared for each one. Feel free to design and use your study timetable in whichever way you want! If you’re a more highlighter-and-markers kind of person, colour code the timetable to your heart’s content. Remember, this is something that’s solely for you. Make sure you understand what your timetable means and organize it however you want.
Own a Planner or Equivalent
In addition to having a weekly planner, I find it equally important to have a daily planner you can carry around for your daily schedule. The daily planner allows you to address specifics on a day-to-day basis. When the daily planner is used in conjunction with the weekly schedule, it helps me to broadly visualize how my week is going to go, and then know exactly what I need to complete each day. In my planner, I like to use the ABC method of prioritization. To use the method, jot down everything that you have to do during the day, then put the letters A, B, and C next to each one. A is for the most important tasks, B for the semi-important ones, and C for those that you can complete another day. I usually base the prioritization on several factors, such as academic deadlines, the weight of the marks involved, and the difficulty level of the task. Using this method ultimately allows me to complete tasks on time with less stress involved, which is always great!
Using Your Phone to Stay on Track
To help keep organized throughout the week, I also like to use my phone to keep myself updated on upcoming events or important tasks I need to complete. The go-to function are the pre-installed calendar and reminder apps. I usually jot down in point form what it is I need to be reminded of, such as remembering to hand in an assignment at a specific time, and set the app up to remind me exactly a day prior. I use this function for everyday activities as well, such as remembering to take out the garbage or to attend group meetings. I like to use this method in conjunction with the planner and the weekly schedule because I feel as though all three methods provide a different function.
Although the weekly planner is great for viewing the entire week in one glance, it’s hard to visualize each specific day. This disadvantage of only using the weekly planner can be offset by also using the daily planner to help you keep organized for each day. And your phone can help remind you of the important tasks on an almost minute-to-minute basis. But remember: all of these methods are just recommendations, and it’s ultimately up to you to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. However, what I can tell you is that time management, in any occupation or situation, is a crucial thing to have, and knowing how to better manage time really only comes with practice. Start practicing now to manage your study time, reduce your stress, and prepare for the world of work after graduation.
Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.