It’s safe to say that the greatest opponent to time management is procrastination. Whether it comes in the form of sleep, pets, or Netflix, procrastinating has a snowball effect which is all too familiar. As university students with years of procrastinating under our belts, we know that the more we procrastinate, the more vicious a cycle it becomes, inevitably resulting in coffee-fueled nuit blanches come academic crunch times. Now perhaps the one good thing about this age-old opposition is that it works the other way around too: good time management practices can override bad procrastination habits.
One of the best ways to banish your procrastination addiction is to develop a positive work routine. For many people, things get easier when they become a habit. For example, if you have a break between classes one day, and you commit to doing your readings for a class you have on another day during that break time each week, it means those readings are going to get done every week and you won’t fall behind. Personally, I would recommend printing out a copy of your class schedule and, after marking down other weekly engagements like work or club meetings, take the time to mark down specific blocks of times to dedicate to classwork.
Naturally, things aren’t always that easy and it can get a lot more complicated in a hurry if you have a fluctuating work schedule or if the amount of homework you get on a week-to-week basis varies greatly. This is when keeping a weekly planner or calendar (either on your phone or in your hand, depending on your preference) to schedule things becomes really useful. If each week you plot when you’re going to do your homework, although it doesn’t have the advantage of being consistent and habitual, it still gives you a weekly plan to stick to.
This being said, if followed too rigidly, even these weekly plans can become disadvantageous. Say you plot an hour to start working on an essay, you could very easily spend the hour trying to get that all-important first sentence down - this precious time could be better spent on other assignments - this also gives the back of your head time to sort itself out and pop forward the perfect opening line when you do come back to that blinking cursor. Alternatively, if you’re on a roll, don’t stop just because the hour is up, you’ll lose your groove and it’s not always easy to get back. Yes, there will be times when sticking to your scheduled time blocks will work to your advantage, but be sure to allow for flexibility in your scheduling.
Finally, when deciding on the amount of time you think something should or will take, as a rule of thumb, multiply that number by three. If it takes longer than you originally thought, well you already anticipated that in your scheduling, and if doesn’t take that long, you have some free time to watch that latest episode of your favourite series, guilt-free!
Whichever tips or strategies you choose to use to make the year go smoothly, find your own way to make the process (somewhat) enjoyable. Whether you find fun stickers or different coloured pens to help yourself coordinate tasks, or if you come up with a system to reward yourself for jobs well done, make sure there’s something to lighten this long tunnel we’re going down; because when it goes dark, procrastination takes over and come exam time, you may just find yourself forgetting what daylight looks like.