Time management is essential to university success

Photo by Jessi Wood
Photo by Jessi Wood

As fall reading week quickly approaches, so too does midterm season: a time when all of us are busy reading and reviewing our notes in preparation for the long days ahead.

For first-year students like myself, this is a time that can feel overwhelming, as we slowly begin to get used to the demanding schedule of university life. At the same time, we don’t know what to expect. After all, these will be our very first university exams. So how can we prepare for them?

I feel as though the key to our success as university students lies in our ability to plan our time effectively. During these demanding times, every minute counts.  I think many of us don’t fully appreciate the value of possessing time management skills, as they are not emphasized enough as the road to success.

University is quite different from high school. There is a lot of free time between classes—freedom to do whatever you may choose. But with this freedom, comes the need to plan effectively.

No one wants to spend their entire university career studying. There are so many other activities to get involved in.

At the same time, many of us know that staying up late each night to party is not the key to success, either. The challenge here is to be able to strike a balance between the two and it begins with your ability to prioritize.

From my experiences, this starts with planning my day. I make use of planners and love to break tasks into categories, colour coding them by importance. I also make specific weekly and monthly goals to break up my tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. This way, I know exactly what I need to get done, allowing me to stay motivated and avoid procrastinating my tasks.

When I make goals, I try to follow the guideline for SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based. During short breaks, I like to get small tasks done. These are tasks that don’t require a lot of energy, but allow me to check something off my to do list and feel accomplished. This is when I often finish short chapter readings.

Planning your day out in advance is an invaluable skill. It will save you time and energy. Even when I have early classes, I plan time to sleep and recharge. This way I am energized when I wake up and can work effectively, instead of being unable to focus.

After a frustratingly long line the first time I tried to take the GO Bus on a Friday, I learned my lesson and woke up a little earlier the next week to pack my bag before my Friday morning class. I went to the bus stop immediately after class, ensuring that my time and energy was not wasted in waiting in a long line.

I try to balance my academics with various extracurriculars. However, at the same time, I make sure that my extracurricular involvement does not interfere with my academic schedule and other commitments.

Ultimately, you should aim to study in a regular pattern. This means making sure you have sufficient time to plan and execute your tasks. This way you can avoid the urge to procrastinate and also make sure that you don’t force yourself to stay up all night studying for that test or finishing that essay due the next morning.

In my opinion, time management is one of the most invaluable skills that you can learn. The ability to manage your time effectively will not only help you succeed during university, but it will also serve as a life lesson that you can apply to almost anything you do.

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