One night, as we were walking back to our rooms, a friend of mine asks me two questions – “What is the most important thing you learnt at IIT? and Is there anything you wish you had learnt here by now?”
My quick response was – ” I learnt that, learning time management was one of the most important things you should expect from college life, and coming to the second question, I wish I had learnt how to tame time by now”. This wasn’t the first time I had thought about the necessity to manage time and if I need to eventually manage time better, this shouldn’t be my last either.
To truly get the most out of college life, one definitely needs to prioritize the various tasks that are to be done, be it attending footer practice, finishing that painful assignment which is due tomorrow or just catching a movie. And quite often, we manage to do everything pretty successfully except managing the acads part. Our excuse might vary from ‘the course being too boring’ to ‘the prof being the Satan himself whose humor lies in subjecting innocent students to sadistic torture’ – touché.
But, we do have to accept the fact that most of us would like to manage time better. So here are some of the tricks and tips which the gurus of time management suggest –
- Things done fast are the worst done :How many times do you find yourself pulled out of your room, may be by your hostel-sec or a wingie, to participate in some event or the other just when you were about to start that assignment of yours(due in some hours)? … Or, your friend calls you for his treat today just because he has finally found time( and cash ) today. And, do you always find yourself catching deadlines rather than spending time doing things the way you like them to be done ? To avoid such situations, one should remember to deal with tasks before they become so urgent that they have to be done immediately, thus disrupting one’s time flexibility.It is difficult to do that, agreed, but you need to find a solution, like Stephen Covey’s time matrix for example. The rule is simple – Always strive to do the important-but-not-urgent tasks rather than the urgent ones because they will be the ones that define you, not the ones which you finished in a hurry because you had to get them done.
- Closures are important : The thing to avoid is to drop a task when it is only partially finished, without any good “closure”; it then either gets lost, or weighs on one’s mind and prevents one from fully thinking about something else, or has to be redone from an earlier point when one picks it up again.
- Don’t forget to recharge your Mojo : We all need an ego boost now and then, especially when we are doing a long project ( may be like a btp or a ddp ). So related to the point about “closure” is the desirability of being able to chop up an extremely long task into smaller, self-contained ones, ideally each with its own immediate “payoff”.Because, these immediate “payoffs” are the ones which are going to drive you in the long run. Remember the saying “Success always tastes sweeter when there is anticipation and anxiety before it” ?
- Realize your productive hours : Finally, recall what were your productive hours before joining IIT. For some it could have been early in the morning while for some others it might be in the evening. It so happens often that we don’t realize our most productive hours of the day and lose out that valuable time for redundant tasks or errands. So, pick some sort of organisational system and make a real effort to stick to it; a half-hearted system is probably worse than no system at all. Each person has his/her own ways and it is essential that you realize this and base your plans around it. For computer scientists, CS undergrads and free-lance hackers, we have a saying – ‘The optimal coding ability takes place between a BAC( blood alcohol content ) of .129 and .138 and between the times 1am and 4 am ‘. So find your right mix to ace your next test ;).
One of the best time management article for academic purposes can be found here at http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/on-time-management/ .
Read more about the time matrix from here
Apart from these, most of the big univs all have time management tips on their main website itself. Do check them out for some concise tips.
Note: The author would like to assure the readers that although he is a CSE undergrad he does not drink and would also like to advise the readers to not drink excessively if at all they do.