Time—just like money—seems to be one of those things that we can never get enough of. As a university student, time can be very limited, and even scarce. Fortunately, with some basic time management skills, you can learn to save, invest, and even make time!
Planning saves time because you’re dedicating certain hours to your responsibilities and obligations and not mindlessly going with the flow. Making use of the BUSU planner and wall calendar that you got during O-Week will not only organize your time, and ultimately your life—it’s also a great way to take advantage of all the discounts and coupon in there! Indigo offers great planners, calendars, and agendas if you’re a pen-and-paper kind of person. If you’re more of a digital techy, e-calendars like Apple Calendar or Microsoft Outlook will work effortlessly.
My personal favourite is Apple Calendar. I plan my schedule a week in advance—this includes classes, work, volunteering, gym, and social events. It allows me to colour-code these categories for visual accessibility and iCloud pushes everything to my Mac, iPhone and iPad, so I’m always up-to-date with my day-to-day schedule wherever I go.
David Allen, a productivity consultant also known as the “Getting Things Done” guru, suggests that if it takes less than two minutes to do, you should do it now. It’s a time management method used to eliminate procrastination. For example, it takes less than two minutes to do your dishes after dinner, clear the top of your dresser or put your clothes away at the end of the day. However, if left unattended, all of these seemingly miniscule chores become big chores and consequently, a time waster. It’s only 120 seconds—do it now.
It’s definitely easier said than done, and probably everyone’s worst enemy, but procrastination is weak unless you give it power! Following the two-minute rule, get rid of everything that doesn’t take much time to do first. Then, spend the rest of your time focusing on projects and assignments that require more time. It will not only alleviate your stress levels, but also improve your efficiency and quality of work.
Yes, this includes Netflix. However, managing your time well would leave room for Netflix anyway! Invest your time in things that matter—remove time in things that don’t. Recently, I’ve learned to focus on activities or people that will positively add value or benefit my life. The trick here is to not get comfortable with your everyday routine or lifestyle, that you might consider to be normal. For example, spending two hours each night watching TV after dinner, or spending hours at the mall browsing without direction.
In this day and age, it’s difficult to not want to always be connected. Although it’s an excellent tool for engagement, marketing, and interaction, social media is also a huge distraction. What I find helps is allotting specific times for social media. When I’m in the office, of course I’m signed in and connected. After I leave work, however, I sign out of all my accounts and focus on my other obligations. Once in the morning (when I wake up) and evening, I’ll dedicate 10 minutes to taking care of my social media stuff: checking my Instagram feed and replying to tweets and Facebook messages. Emails can wait until the next day. Not having notifications pop up on your phone all the time is actually refreshing. Applying this practice has relieved my stress and anxiety and left me feeling calmer.
This is for all my A-types out there. Personally, I love lists. On my Reminders app, I have a list for school (e.g. write term paper), work (e.g. follow up with so-and-so regarding project), groceries (e.g. buy eggs), personal (e.g. pay cell phone bill), and “today” – for urgent, needs-to-be-done today kind of tasks (e.g. call Mom). The simple act of writing something down will automatically put it in on your mental radar, making you more mindful of completing it. Like #1, a pen and paper also works beautifully.
With efficient planning, you can significantly decrease the time it takes to complete your tasks. For example, if you know you have a long day at school and you plan to go to the gym after, bring your gym bag with you to school. Going home after school to change and get your gym stuff is an unnecessary, extra trip and thus a waste of time. For me, there’s a library at the gym I go to, so I often bring my schoolwork and laptop with me so I can study after my work out. It seems like common sense to “hit two birds with one stone”, but most people don’t actually plan their days enough to make these connections.
Even if you follow all of these tips, you might still be little on time, but chances are, you’ll add some extra hours to your day because you’re not doing things like staying up until 3 a.m. watching House of Cards or spending your Sunday cleaning your room. This means you’ll have ample amounts of time left over to do awesome (and important) things, like play Frisbee with your dog, apply for that cool internship you really want, or bake cupcakes with your sister.