Time is the universal currency for getting things done. Want to be well-prepared for that exam? Well, you’ve got to spend time reviewing. Want to get that assignment done? Well, you’ve got spend time to complete it. Unfortunately, as sleep deprived, multitasking university students, we find ourselves constantly running short of this most basic yet most important commodity. Given this urgent demand, it’s not surprising that entire book shelves in bookstores have been devoted to time management techniques of one flavour or another. I have even read some of them. However, my goal here is not to regurgitate the pieces and ideas presented in those books; nowadays one can easily look up the nitty-gritty details of these time management techniques on google. Instead, I’m more interested in changing how we understand time, hopefully in a way that is conducive to raising our efficiency. The model I’ll use here is budgeting for money.
Know the price you’re paying
Similar to spending money on the week’s groceries, we deploy our time to accomplish the week’s assignments and other undertakings. Now, if all the price sticker have been removed from the shelves, it would cause a problem because we’d have only a very fuzzy idea of how much we’re spending. However, many of us spend our time this way – without a clear idea how much of our time our various commitments might require. The “let it burn as much time as it needs approach” is similar to spending money without a budget – we’re likely to take on more things than we have the time for, and end up stressing and scrambling on the night before the due date. As the pre-requisite step for raising your efficiency through good time budgeting, using a time log to record where your time’s gone gives you important information on the “price” one needs to pay for each commitment (e.g., one hour is usually need to review one lecture of biology). This information enables one to go on to the next step – schedule their time commitment in the most efficient manner.
Schedule your time as if on a budget
This step isn’t too complex: estimate how long each commitment takes, schedule your time slots of the week so you can finish all of them, and follow the schedule as you go about your day. The scheduling tools available are numerous, ranging from a good-ole’ paper calendars to fancy apps with lots of bells and whistles. Personally, Google calendar works well for me. Its user interface is simple and straightforward, and I can easily sync my Google calendar across multiple devices.
Saving the time and raising the efficiency
A major way to save money is to compare the price and choose the more affordable option. Similarly, one can compare the “cost” of doing things in different ways, in terms of time (e.g., it takes one hour to review lecture notes with the phone turned off, but two hours with the phone turned on – because one is constantly distracted with new text messages). This would also work well if you want to compare the cost of using different study techniques.
However, don’t forget to schedule your breaks in as well, as they are very important, as explained in part I of this series. Or if you’d missed it, here’s the Introduction and part III to this series! If you find this blog interesting or useful, like to show your appreciation. If you have any comments, please don’t hesitate to comment!