One of the biggest challenges of a busy student is time management.
And Jim Rohn was right when he said, ‘Either the day runs you or you run the day.’ But how do you run your day when there’s so much to do, and it doesn’t look like 24 hours would be enough?
To-do lists are a great way to start. However, there are more practical (but rarely talked about) ways busy students can put their time into productive use.
I have highlighted 7 of them in this post.
#1. Do Away With Perfectionism
Usually, I like to take my time to get something done perfectly. But in my second year in college, I learnt a hard lesson about perfectionism.
In one of my anatomy homework, I spent days drawing images of bones and parts of the human body not because I couldn’t be faster, but because I wanted it to be unblemished!
Eventually, I had to hurry the concluding part of the assignment in order to meet deadline and all my initial perfection counted for nothing because, it had no impact on the final scores.
I realized, to succeed in college I needed to adjust my taste for perfection.
Nothing will ever be really perfect. Striving to get things done perfectly will only waste your precious time and reduce your productivity. Do it well enough to pass for excellent and forget about the flattery of perfection.
#2. Have Academic Retreats
Charles Brixton wasn’t wrong when he said, ‘You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.’
You should form a habit of withdrawing occasionally for intensive reading, study and attending to schoolwork. It works best on weekends and it can be anything from a full day to two or more. You can use this approach to prevent yourself from falling behind or if you have a backlog to clear.
If you hold vital roles in your engagements, for instance, a leadership position, you can delegate it to someone while you request to be away. In any case, it’s good to let your group be aware that you need some time to be alone. They don’t have to know why or where you are going to, but even if they probe, that shouldn’t be a big deal.
#3. Move Around With Basic Essentials
If your usual schedule is such that makes you journey back and forth within and outside the campus premises, setting out in the morning with some basic utilities in your bag or car wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Whenever I figured, I’d have a long day, with meetings or activities running well into the night I’d secure my toothbrush, a tie and a shirt in my school bag. I’d have also thought about where to pass the night. Sometimes, it could be the venue of my last activity for the day, a friend’s place close by or a student centre not far away.
If I didn’t do this, I’d be forced to return to my room very late at night or very early in the morning to do nothing more than catch some sleep or freshen up and then jet out for the day! That, I could easily do anywhere else! Why waste time and some bucks on transport fare?
Initially, I did this on anticipated busy days, but as I got busier, it became second nature and it did help me become unpredictable and highly flexible with my schedule.
#4. Have Multiple Reminders and Alarms
After working long hours at multiple jobs, Ufot Ekong, one of Tokai University’s phenomenal graduates, would deploy multiple alarms to ensure he does not oversleep and miss his lectures or other appointments.
Back then in school, there were times when I would mandate 3 of my friends to call me as soon they rose from bed. Some other times, I would set serial alarms. So, if I plan to wake up or do a thing by 5am, I could set 4 alarms at 4:45am, 4:50am, 4:55am and 5am.
That way, there was no way I would oversleep even if very tired.
#5. Have Schedules
One principle that shows up around us every day is that we can get things done by having our lives well scheduled. Everything in school is scheduled: lectures, semesters, assessments, exams and programs. If this was not in place, running the institution would have been problematic.
There are no two ways to it. To be in charge of your time on campus, you need to have schedules that you try to stick to. You need to have time apportioned and blocked out for different things. You can have schedules for the year, the month, the week and each day.
Schedules often have three elements namely, time, duration and frequency. For instance when do I go to bed and how long do I stay in bed. When do I go online, how often and how long do I stay per time? These are pertinent questions for drawing up schedules.
#6. Have Alternatives
As you attend to your daily schedule, sometimes, things may not work out as intended. Since time – the equal resource given to everyone, is what is at stake, you should quickly use it for something else and not allow it to idle away.
There must be something you can do with the time.
When your lecturer is yet to come to class, do not go chatting with everyone under the guise of waiting for your lecturer. You can sit somewhere and do something more profitable with the time. If it happens that your lecturer delays for 45 minutes, you could have wasted that much time doing nothing progressive. But you could have also done a lot, within that period.
It is important, to let your mind always be at work to create alternatives immediately one schedule fails to work out.
#7. Sometimes Don’t Drive, Let Someone Drive You
Sometimes when you have a lot of things to do, driving yourself may not be a good idea. When you drive yourself, you practically can’t do any other serious activity. Whereas the time you spend driving can be utilized to attend to other things, if someone else is behind the wheels.
So, in certain instances, it may be better to hire a driver, a taxi or use the public train or bus.
You may also decide to identify the routes or distances you would drive and the ones you would let someone drive you through. It’s often better to drive short distances while letting someone else take the wheels for the longer ones. It may also be better to let yourself be driven when passing routes prone to heavy traffic jam.
Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.