Lack of time management causes disorganization and disorientation. This in turn causes stress and poor performance.
The basic idea of Time Management is simply to know:
- how much time you have
- what goal you have to achieve
- what hindrances are there in the way
- what would help you achieve your goal
Basically, how much can you achieve in a given time frame, being aware of the constraints, to the best of your ability. Easier said than done, isn’t it.
Here is a 3 step process that helped me immensely during my test prep:
1.Assess: For a week, sit down every night for 15 minutes and try to recount your day. Try to jot down all your activities that you did in the day, and how long you remember you spent on each. This will give you an idea as to where you are spending maximum time and whether that activity is worth that much time. Also, do all these activities together add up correctly, or are you missing some time? Could you analyse which part of the day you are not being able to utilize for anything productive but is being whiled away with frivolous activities or you being plain lazy. Next day onward, try to keep a track during the day, while doing the activities as well. Basically, try to see are how close your “perceived” 15 minutes are to actual 15 minutes.
Once you get a complete picture of where your precious time is going, you will find it easier to make adjustments for your study and prep work.
2.Prioritize: Second step is to make a list of what activities you want to do or which tasks you want to complete. This list should not be a wish list but your tasks lined up according to urgency and practicality. This will help in prioritizing your work and help you focus on the important tasks.
Now make a schedule based on your priority list. Your schedule should have at least these three classifications:
- fixed activities: such as school or job, exercise or sports
- test prep activities: self-study, class
- non-study activities: TV, sleep, friends and family
Please note, I am not saying that you test prep is more important than spending time with family, or watching TV, or sleeping. Each activity is important, and serves a purpose. However, the time distributed across activities should be proportionate to the priority. e.g. Reducing leisure TV viewing from 2 hours to 30–45 minutes for 2 months would be a logical trade off.
3. Focus: All of us have 24 hours in day. The difference between those who are able to have a productive day and those of us who crib ‘Where is the time?’ is focus. Even if you sit down to do a topic for an hour, make sure you concentrate on the task at hand. It is very easy to get carried away in day dreaming, planning or mixing some other non related activity with the study time. But you need to be strict.
We all have distractions, we all get distracted. It is human to get distracted. So, no need to beat yourself over it. However, what you do when you realize you have gotten distracted is critical. Do you bring yourself back to the task at hand, or do you let yourself indulge in the distraction? It is at this stage that you need to be forceful and stop yourself from indulging.
There is a time and a place for everything. No one expects you to carry your study material to the movies. Likewise, do not carry your movies or sports to the study table. If you do not focus, not only will you retain less but also a one hour task will get extended for another or more, disturbing your entire schedule. Time management gone for a toss!
So, assess — prioritize — focus — time is all yours!