What’s the most valuable thing in the world? Power, money or love you might say? I think not, the most valuable thing in the world anyone can have is time. Whether it’s time to make money, spend with the one you love or else time to plan how you get powerful – that’s all up to you. Regardless of whether you feel you have a load of time or very little, time management is the only way to get the most out of the time we have. I don’t think anybody has invented a fully functional time machine yet and if they have, please let a pal know.
In college, we are constantly given deadlines in order to put a bit of pressure on getting our work done in good time. The best way to tackle this, as I know it can all be challenging, is to set yourself your own deadlines. Although deadlines are given to everyone, only you can know yourself what you’re going to manage and the time-frame you need to do that in.
Of course prior planning comes into it here but really set a deadline that you’re going to accomplish a certain task in or part of an essay or project on a certain day by a certain time. This gradual approach of getting your work done in parts makes the workload look like less of a mountain and you can trick yourself into thinking you’ve more time.
To do this in an organised way, you should definitely use technology to the max. We have so many technical outlets on which we can set alarms, reminders, buzzers or even a voice message from someone important to you telling you to get on with something. These are so easy to do but possibly hard to stick to. Think back to the many times you’ve ignored your alarm on an average morning. But really, these alarms bring forth feelings of guilt – and good guilt I think. Looking down to a phone and it telling you what you’re currently ignoring, it can be good to have that type of point of pressure in place.
Of course when the pressure is on it’s so important to set reasonable breaks. This will help you manage your time and work more efficiently as you’re training your mind that good work deserves something good to follow. Wouldn’t we all agree that good work usually gets good grades? It’s the same mentality. Your break doesn’t have to be the same every time.
I’ve found that even a walk around in fresh air helps, you don’t have to filter your body with coffee or get a sugary snack – although you can if you want. I think an apple and cuppa, maybe a quick chat with a friend between library hours. Even to check in with a classmate working on the same thing as you, that reassurance that you aren’t alone nor doing badly is a great way to spend a break.
Another important part of this is learning how to limit yourself to then reward yourself. If you can force yourself to stop watching that Netflix documentary or series and make the promise to yourself to go back to it when your work is done, it may even make you work faster.
The promise of something better at the end of a tough work session is a really good motivator. I know we spend our student lives looking for motivators but at the end of the day, we’re doing a degree and we want that to come about smoothly rather than with difficulty. This takes some sacrifice, sometimes at the worst of times, for example when friends are planning a night out but you know yourself, you’ve work to do at that particular time.
With this, it’s essential to know when to say no and to prioritise yourself even if it’s a tough decision. Sometimes you have to be selfish and put yourself and the workload first. I’m not saying become a bad friend or housemate, but it’s okay to turn off your phone, shut down Facebook and go off the radar until the work is complete. A friend of mine always does that and although we miss him, we know he’s doing what he needs to do and he’ll always come back for us to fill him in on what he’s missed.
It’s not the end of the world and it won’t last forever. This prioritising can come in forms of declining invites from someone starting a break when you’re finishing one. Trust me, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about time is that it can easily get away from you.
Always remember, there’s no time like the present. Chip away at the mountain and the mountain becomes smaller (…are there any mountains in Galway? Easy distraction is definitely my fall down.) Time management is all about understanding yourself so that you can get a bit of a routine together. But keep in mind: self-deadlines, prioritising, rewards and breaks. I hope this will help you as much as possible and the very best of luck with your exams.
-By Cathy Lee