Keeping Time: the importance of budgeting for time management

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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As much as technology and science progress, there are still only 24 hours in any given day, of which you are only effective for 15 or 16 hours maximum. Take into account everything else you have to cram into those few, short hours, now add your postgraduate study schedule into the mix. Seems like a lot? Not to worry, there’s plenty you can do to maximise your efficiency. The very first thing you need to do is to step back and re-evaluate your time commitments. What is absolutely necessary? Is there anything you can refine and improve on?

Back to Basics

While ‘making a list’ is hardly revolutionary advice, it remains one of the most effective ways of ordering your day. Quite simply, some things need to be done before others and putting some sort of structure on what needs to be done can help you avoid worrying about it later in the day when you are tired. It’s best to get urgent tasks out of the way earlier during the day, when you’re fresher.

Plan ahead

We all have things that consume time within our daily schedule, some of it needlessly. These time-draining elements can range from an over-active social media obsession, to television to the human art of procrastination, which in itself is one of the greatest drains on daily achievement. Try and schedule a pressing task for those times of the day when you are most vulnerable to lapse into aimless web browsing or procrastinating in front of the television. It’s a particular threat to your study schedule as you need all the time management and self-motivation you can get.

Avoid (digital) temptation

Social media deserves a paragraph of its own when it comes to time management. At times it seems these systems have been designed explicitly to drain time from your day. Leaving Instagram, Facebook or Twitter tabs open on your computer is simply asking for trouble, that ‘one minute’ status update or feed scan easily turns into a half hour of pointless scrolling. Just close them and focus!

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’

Some of us also find it very hard to say no, and not being able to say ‘no’ puts your time in the control of others. If you have too much to deal with, you just cannot always be in a position to help someone out. Your relationship with that person will dictate how often you can say ‘no’, but while personal matters may make it difficult, it should be much easier in work situations. If you have too much work on, in conjunction with your studies, to be able to help someone else out with theirs, then you need to master that all too difficult phrase…sorry, but no.

Ask for help

In a similar vein, if you are helping someone out, don’t be afraid to cash in your credit and ask for some help back! Again this could be in relation to work or personal circumstances. If you’re lucky enough to have a strong network around you, then this is a time when you’re in a position to benefit from it. When you’re through your studies you’ll easily be in a position to return the favour, so don’t feel guilty in asking for help now.

Stay single-minded

As for multi-tasking, some people only feel busy if they are doing more than one thing at once. Some people are built for effective multi-tasking, many others are not. For too many of us, it simply translates as doing lots of elements of many different things poorly, rather than focusing on one or two tasks and completing them thoroughly. Fix a goal on completing a particular task or assignment, and follow it through to the end. In the long term, self-discipline and focus will be rewarded.


Gemma Creagh

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