“Not Enough Hours in the Day”: How to Become a Pro at Time Management

Time management can be tough, especially as a student. For some, we have become accustomed to time-wasting habits and attitudes — one more episode of Netflix, or the famous saying “I’ll do it tomorrow.” I like to think that I am pretty well-organized — and with that, my time management skills are actually quite good. However, there are definitely days where I find myself partaking in useless time-consuming activities — scrolling through social media, online shopping or simply binge-watching my favourite shows.  Although these tasks are all good and fun, we don't always engage in them at the best times. 

Rather than waste even more of your time by writing a lengthy introduction — let’s get talking about some of the ways that can help us become better and more efficient day in and day out. 

Here is a list of seven tips that I personally use and are guaranteed to make you a pro (if not better) at managing your time. 

1. Remain as organized as possible

Organization is the key to success when it comes to time management. Have you ever had to run out the door, but you can’t find your keys, your purse or the assignment you need to submit by noon? If you're already a busy person, remaining as organized as possible will be your best friend. Make specific folders for your classes and keep your “essentials” in a designated spot. By doing this, you will eliminate half the stress from your morning and save some time you could be using to be productive. Your future self will thank you. 
2. Purchase a planner or calendar (and actually use it)

I am a girl of routine, which means I swear by this tip. Whether it be a fancy planner or a simple whiteboard calendar, having all your dates and deadlines in one place (other than the syllabus you haven't opened in two months) is super helpful. Even if you would prefer to use an electronic version of a calendar, the best way to manage your day-to-day activities is by actually being aware of when they are. 

Some people prefer to colour-code each class, whereas others only need to see a physical date written on a calendar to stay on top of their responsibilities. Whichever you choose, you will likely find it easier to manage where and when you need to be if you don't rely solely on your memory. 

3. Make a schedule 

When you have an overwhelming amount of obligations, breaking the big tasks into smaller ones can make it seem a lot less intimidating. I like to make schedules when I have assignments or tests to study for, as I can dedicate specific days or chunks of time in my days to preparing for whatever it may be. 

By making a schedule ahead of time, you also ensure you will be sticking to deadlines and have enough time to do so without feeling crammed or overwhelmed. 

4. Don’t procrastinate 

In relation to the last two tips, try your very best not to procrastinate on tasks (especially large ones). Although some people “work well under pressure,” it is not an ideal situation for anyone to be in, so plan ahead. If you start by organizing dates, assignments and social events as soon as you know of them, you'll avoid finding yourself in a situation where you are pressed for time. 

Even though it can be very easy to push tasks off until the next day or the next week, by doing so you end up with more stress than you would have had if you had completed the task on time. I find it helpful to reward myself when I finish the day’s tasks to help me stay motivated for the next day and ensure I stay on track.
5. Prioritize the important tasks first

If you have a final worth 40 per cent in a few days, but you also told your friends you would go out with them tonight, prioritize what will benefit you in the long run first. That is not to say you should never make time to wind down or hang out with your friends: it means differentiating between what is important right now and what can wait. 

6. Make to-do lists and set reminders
Along with using a planner, I swear by the use of to-do lists and reminders — especially as a means of time management. Each day, whether on my phone or a physical sticky note, I make a to-do list of what today looks like for me. Not tomorrow, not next week — today. This helps with focusing on what your immediate responsibilities are without worrying about the upcoming days. Not only does having a to-do list help to stay organized, checking tasks off throughout the day provides motivation and a sense of satisfaction. Reminders also ensure we don't forget smaller tasks that can sometimes fly over one’s head. 
7. Lastly, remember it’s okay to not always “follow the plan” 

Despite all these tips, life happens. There are going to be days that using a planner and colour coding just aren't going to cut it when all you want to do is take a nap — that is okay. Although time management is important in university, remember to take care of yourself also. If you had to reschedule plans or push studying to the next day, that is normal. Our days do not always go to plan and it is surely okay to make necessary changes here and there.
If you feel as though you’re constantly struggling to manage your time, I hope these tips help you to maximize each and every one of your days — and assist you in becoming more efficient, day in and day out.