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Studying and Time Management

studying and time management image-smallTime management is regularly talked about in many situations where planning and organisation is involved. Therefore it comes as no surprise that time management often features as a key element for effective studying.

Understanding time is indeed one of the essential factors in learning how to study effectively. However, as Alec Mackenzie indicates in his book The Time Trap (1991),the idea of time management may be the biggest misconception of all”. Time is constant. It moves at 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day. I don’t know anybody who can stop, pause, fast forward, rewind or play time. Time was here before us and will be here long after many of us, so how can we hope to manage it?

When the topic of time management is discussed, what most people are actually referring to is self-management. We can only manage ourselves in relation to time. We cannot manage time itself. Time is simply a way of measuring the space between events.

Discussion on time management usually centres on what we do with the time that is available. Therefore some might argue that it doesn’t really matter whether you refer to the concept as time management or self-management because the goal of being more organised remains the same. I beg to differ. Your belief about the concept helps to shape your actions, so how you view time, will impact how you treat it.

There is a common tendency to blame time when we do not accomplish things that we set out to. Time is probably one of the most popular scapegoats there is. Recognising that we as individuals are responsible for what we do within the 24 hours of each day can lead us to taking more responsibility for our actions and not blaming time.

What follows is a shortened version of some of my experience with studying and “time management”.

Whilst studying full time for my A Levels I worked at a part time job. The shift pattern included working every Sunday and 2 evenings each week for a total of 11.5 hours. I also had some responsibilities at my church and I was involved in the church band, playing the drums which required a weekly practice session. When I went to Uni to study my undergraduate degree things changed slightly. I dropped the hours at my job and just worked on Sundays and 1 evening each week instead of 2. I had a fewer commitments so managing my workload was not a major problem.

After my undergraduate degree I went on to study for a Masters and that’s when my situation really changed. I had been living in Bristol, England (my home city) where I studied my first degree but I chose to study for my Masters at a University in South Wales which was just under an hour’s drive away. I kept my initial part time job but I dropped the shift in the week and only worked on Sundays. However, I now had another job where I worked 2 days each week. In addition to that I had more responsibilities at my local church. My weeks were pretty busy from then on. A typical week during my Masters study period was as follows:

Sunday: Work all day in Bristol then travel to Wales in the evening

Monday: Classes at Uni in Wales

Tuesday: Personal study day in Wales (No work or classes)

Wednesday: Classes at Uni in the day, travel back to Bristol in the evening

Thursday: Work in Bristol

Friday: Work then Church in the evening, all in Bristol

Saturday: My church day (Sabbath) with youth teaching and treasury duties; Also in Bristol.

This was undoubtedly the busiest period in my life. With so much to do, organising myself was critical if I was to achieve my goals. There were a lot less hours available to do things than when I was studying my BSc degree and my A Levels, as there was so much more going on. By God’s grace I was able to complete my Masters achieving better grades than I had in previous courses, with an over Distinction grade.

Organisation and self-management were essential to this. Resist the urge to make time a scapegoat and organise yourself to pave the way for success in your studies.

Upcoming articles will delve more into how to organise yourself effectively for studying.

I hope you found this useful.

If you have any questions please ask.

What have you experienced with “time management” and your studies?

Do you plan in advance or are you a last minute kind of person?

Are you organised?

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