Managing Your Time

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When you are studying, time can become a slippery thing. One minute you feel positive, on top of your workload and ready for anything; then you remember the essay that is sitting, almost finished on your laptop. In that moment, it does not matter that you only have a few hundred words to go, or that you have made a really good plan. All that matters is that it is lurking, and you have a ‘to do’ list that seems to be huge, and you are tired already ... and now time has become your enemy. Of course, you tell yourself, you do not have enough hours in the day, there is no way you can see how to finish it on time. The pressure builds and you have a problem.

That is one of the challenges with time for many of us: the real and the imagined time. You recall that person you know who is always moaning about their workload? Who feels victimised by too much to do and seems to be wallowing in the pressure? Someone who perhaps seems to identify as little more than a ‘too-busy person’? If you analysed that person’s day, it might be that they have too much to do, or it might be that they simply have no clear idea on what needs to be done, or how to go about managing their time effectively.

For many of us, time feels like the enemy when we feel stressed, so it is worth thinking about three key aspects of managing your time:

  • Sometimes you genuinely are short of time, and you need to be able to recognise these ‘pinch points’ in your schedule, ideally in advance, so that you can be ready. This is especially the case if you know you will face time pressure at certain regular points (such as a long day of face-to-face learning sessions one day each week with little time between them). You might not be able to change the situation, but you can prepare to do very little that day except attend those events.
  • For most of your studying life, you have far more control over how you use your time than you might appreciate right now, and this will continue into your professional life.
  • If you feel stressed, you might blame time when in fact you are simply feeling anxious about a task or your next challenge. Knowing that your time is under control can make you feel more in charge of all aspects of your life and so reduce that stress.

This skill section begins with where you are now: how you feel about time and how well you tend to use the time you have. We will think about how to make time, how to save it, and how to use it to best effect, before moving on to time management planning. The section finishes with the chance to think about time management as an attractive asset to employers and how you can make the most of the skills you have gained as a student.

Suggested Readings
Becker, L. (2019). Study your way to your perfect career: How to become a successful student, fast, and then make it count. SAGE.
Rebel, K. (2020). Manage your time: SAGE super quick skills. SAGE.
Collins, E. (2020). Little habits mastery: 7 secrets to create successful habits, overcome procrastination and make lasting changes.
Cirillo, F. (2018). The Pomodoro technique: The life-changing time-management system. Ebury Publishing.
Zahariades, D.(2017). The time chunking method: A 10-step action plan for increasing your productivity (The Art of Personal Success Book 1).