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Top tips for time management

Monday, 16 April 2012

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Often the most successful people we meet aren’t those who are necessarily the brightest, but the most hard-working. They seem to have a knack for staying focused and getting things done, and have mastered that most elusive of skills – time management.

So here are some top tips from the best of the best:

  • Time is your friend. Time is the only thing you can really control – you alone can choose how you spend it. We all make excuses, but if we’re really honest with ourselves, when we say “I don’t have time to...”, what we sometimes mean is “I choose not to do this because I am unable to make it a priority.” Owning up to these tendencies is the first step to realising that you have the potential to achieve much more.
  • Keep a time diary. If you think you are too busy to start your essay a week early, to take on some work experience, to join that fitness class... start to take a good look at what you are actually doing instead of what you wish you were doing. Write down everything you do with your time, from when you get up, to when you go to sleep. After a week, you might notice that ‘too busy’ is really not accurate – in fact, you spent two entire hours watching TV on one day, and a total of four hours checking Facebook over the week! This is fine if you don’t have other things you would like to achieve, but if improving your grades is on the agenda this semester, keeping a time diary will help you to take an honest look at how busy you actually are.
  • Create a basic schedule. Now you have done some research, identify which tasks you can cut back on to help you achieve your goals, academic or otherwise. Create a new schedule for yourself - it can be as detailed as you like, but make sure to schedule in all the important things like work, social time, and sleep as well as study hours.
  • Consider combining tasks. You won’t always need to cut back on the things you love doing. Perhaps you like to read for at least half an hour a day, usually before bed. Suppose you also have a 45 minute train ride to uni during the day, during which time you usually listen to music. Now that you’re conscious of this, you might want to switch to reading on the train. If you have identified patterns such as these during your research, try to plan your schedule to combine some tasks, thus saving you extra time later in the day for your assignments.
  • Set mini deadlines. Sometimes an assignment due date can seem way too far into the future, or the project way too large to even contemplate starting until it’s absolutely necessary. Break your assignment and study tasks into smaller chunks, each with their own mini deadline. Instead of working solely towards the due date in your schedule, set tasks such as having the research done by a certain date, and the first draft completed by another date. The projects will seem a lot more manageable, plus there will be more triumphs to reward yourself for when you meet your targets.
  • Turn wasted time into time well-spent. Sometimes we don’t notice how much time we actually waste waiting around, because these things tend to occur in small fragments. Think waiting at the doctors, or queuing in the supermarket. For these situations, prepare some pocket-sized notes to keep on your person at all times. What’s more, think about all the time you spend commuting in your car, or walking the dog – perhaps next time you read through your class notes at home you could record yourself? Then you could pop your very own audio notes onto a CD or iPod and find valuable study time in everyday activities. With a few minutes here and there, you’ll be surprised how quickly it all adds up.

More information

For more information on study skills, visit the Faculty of Business and Law Academic Skills Centre in Building 2 at Joondalup, or Building 10 at Mount Lawley. You can also access their workshop timetables online by logging in to Blackboard.

Faculty of Business and Law Academic Skills Centre

Phone: 134 ECU (134 328)
Email: fbllearning@ecu.edu.au

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