Time Management 101
Learning to use your time more effectively can make all the difference in university.
By Samantha Allan
In the transition back to in-person learning, many Vancouver Island University students have expressed that they feel as if they have significantly less time for their commitments and often struggle to manage their time. What exactly is time management? It is the ability to use time effectively and it’s considered a skill, so it can be learned and strengthened!
Time management “is what we do to plan and divide our time between activities,” says Shelley-Anne Gajda, Coordinator for Peer Supported Learning (PSL) at VIU. “We manage ourselves and our use of time — there is still only 24 hours in the day.”
Shelley-Anne’s insights as a leader and coordinator on campus can help us to build our toolkit for managing time and using it to our greatest advantage.
What do you have to do to manage time effectively?
Shelley-Anne emphasizes that “it really starts with identifying your needs, your time wasters, and the reason you jump into time wasters. For instance, I notice that in the middle of working on a project or a document, I will pick up my phone … Why? Probably because I am either bored of that project or I have hit a roadblock and I am not sure what to do at that point.”
Set goals for yourself, take note of deadlines for your deliverables, start with the smaller tasks, and break up larger tasks whenever possible to stay motivated, then create a schedule and use checklists while you work. Also learn how to use breaks wisely, leverage available technologies, and ask for help early. After each milestone, reward yourself! Here are some examples:
- Goals: use an app to find out how much time you spend being unproductive on your phone. Set a goal to cut it down by an hour each day. By doing so, you will already free up seven hours per week for other activities.
- Deadlines: use your course outlines to write out deadlines for quizzes, assignments, exams, discussion posts and more on a chart or calendar.
- Scheduling: this can be as broad or as finite as you like, but consider activities like lecture periods, study time, working hours, social activities, exercise time, family time, cooking time, creative time, personal time, etc.
- Breaks: be intentional. Some of your breaks can be used for errands or housework, but some should be reserved exclusively to rest, relax and do nothing at all.
What are some of the technologies and tools for time management available?
While technology can often be a major source of distraction, there are tools, apps, and software that can help you to perfect your time management. Three examples are Rize, Notion, and 135list.
Shelley-Anne suggests using timers and methods like the Pomodoro Technique (breaking your weekday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks) to stay focused and avoid time-wasting.
“Students are really smart, they know how they spend their time and what they do when they are procrastinating — it’s really just being honest about it with yourself and then setting some strategies that will make you more accountable for how you use your time.”
How can VIU help?
On the Learning Matters webpage there are resources to help you become a better learner, get the most from your classes, and find support. Shelley-Anne strongly encourages you to explore these resources and highlights the Manage Time and Concentration webpage for tips, tools, and strategies for your success. She also suggests speaking with an Advisor, as many of them will have tips on managing your use of time.
How do you tell if your time management strategy is working?
Time management is a skill that you can always work to improve. Progressing skills like organization, delegation, prioritization, and communication will contribute to effective time use overall.
When you’ve implemented a good time management strategy, Shelley-Anne says you will feel more in control of yourself, less stressed, likely get better sleep, make decisions easier, and feel less guilt about saying yes to more free time activities.
“If you don’t put things off, you’re better able to handle those unplanned-for, inevitable disruptions,” she adds.
Top tips for breaking out of time wasting and procrastination
Time management experts agree that commitment and consistency are sure to help you achieve success. Try:
- Breaking down big tasks into more manageable pieces in advance.
- Planning out each day at the beginning or end of each week.
- Scheduling regular productivity hours during each weekday and giving yourself time off.
- Minimizing distractions by maintaining a quiet, functional workspace and turning off notifications on your phone.
- Cutting down on commitments that don’t align with your goals and priorities.
- Being flexible and realistic with your strategy and having a contingency plan for when the unexpected happens.
Remember that it’s okay to ask for help and be honest with yourself. You are your own ally or enemy in your time management, so treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and encouragement!
Samantha Allan is a first-generation learner of Indigenous and British ancestry with home roots across the province of BC. She is currently a Bachelor of Business Administration, Major in Management student at VIU and her long-term goal is to work in law and economic development.
This article originally appeared on the VIU Blog!
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