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Time management for every personality

By Brigid Conroy, 3rd-year Biochemistry student

Returning to the world of classes after reading week can be quite a shock to the system, especially when due dates that seemed distant when you left are suddenly fast approaching! If you are hoping to improve your time management skills for the second half of the semester, there are several strategies that can help. Whether you like to have every moment of your day scheduled or need a more relaxed approach, there is a time management strategy that will work for you!

If, like me, you do best when your day is carefully mapped out, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is a Weekly Schedule. A weekly schedule will allow you to identify chunks of time for schoolwork around your fixed commitments and assign specific tasks to each. A weekly schedule also helps prevent chunks of time from going missing to social media, talking with friends, or the dreaded funny video compilations! If you often find yourself wondering where your time is going, check out the Weekly Time Use tool.

When creating a weekly schedule, it is important to be realistic in estimations of the time required for each task. This is easier said then done so use the Time Monitoring form to help you develop this skill. Underestimating how long a particular task will take can leave you discouraged, so be sure to make adjustments to your schedule regularly! Leaving unassigned blocks of “flex time” in your schedule will also allow you to make up for tasks that took longer than expected or enjoy some down time!

Another great strategy for time management is preparing a to-do list at the beginning of each week. One of my favourite techniques for doing so is the Dump and Sift method. First, write down everything you have to do in the next two weeks. Then organize the tasks into three categories: A, B, and C. Category A tasks are the most urgent – those that must be completed within a week. Category B tasks are less urgent but still need attention, and category C tasks are the least urgent. Then, create a list of prioritized tasks for the week ahead. It is easy for to-do lists to become a source of anxiety, but prioritizing will prevent you from having to read the entire (often overwhelming) list every time you sit down to work! Instead, you can focus on the most important tasks one at a time.

Now some of you are asking: Am I out of luck if I can’t stand the idea of planning out every moment of my day? Absolutely not! Instead of planning your time in advance, record what you accomplish each day and compare with your goals. This will allow you to track your progress and ensure you are using your time effectively. Developing a routine of where you like to study between classes can help you make use of shorter study blocks without excessive planning. As well, setting a timer can help you return to work in a timely fashion after breaks.

Finally, using a monthly Term Calendar will provide a long-term outlook for the rest of the semester and help you keep an eye on final projects or papers! No matter what your preference, implementing a new time management strategy can make the second half of the semester smooth sailing towards a sunnier break!

Photo courtesy of jerik0ne under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.