When it comes to managing time especially as students, everyone has an opinion as to how best this can be done. I have heard of various ideas ranging from covering your walls with time-tables to plastering your fridges and TV’s with Postit notes. Having spoken to a number of people, there exist a common obstacle/ trouble for most students. Some of the key questions that I hear regularly from students can be listed as follows:
(i) How do I stick to the rigid time-table that I have drawn myself?
(ii) How do I avoid conflict between the time for work and play?
(iii) What do I do when I am supposed to be working but my favourite show is on the TV?
Our approach to answering the above questions is first to look at the source of the problems and then consider alternative ways of doing things. Firstly let’s deal with the issue of the ‘rigid timetable’. Rigid time-tables have been a source of heart-breaks for most students as many give up and easily loose hope once they’ve figured out that they can neither keep up with the fixed/alloted times and hence have missed a lot of work. This is largely due to a conflict between the time allocated for work and for play. To be successful, any timetable has to include adequate rest periods in between. These periods can be used to fit in rest and leisure. I once stumbled across a student’s time-table which had work periods written all over with little or no gaps for rest. Such time-tables are bound to fail from the word ‘go’. For those who love using fixed time-tables, the secret is to be realistic with the time-table. Know on averages how many hours of work you can do (allowing enough rest) – in order not to over-stretch yourself.
An alternative and a more effective method is what I will call ‘ Flexible time-tables’ – this deals with the second question. At first the word flexible time-table might sound a bit perplexing. I can hear some students ask ” aren’t time-tables supposed to be fixed?” Well, yes and no. The key point in using a flexible time-table is that a student starts out each day deciding on how many hours of work they will complete each day. This work can be done in the early morning, in the afternoon, late in the evening or at night. It doesn’t matter when the work is done – what matters is that the work is actually done. This method allows students to fit their daily lives around their work rather than the other way round. This brings me to the third question i.e. What do I do when I am supposed to be working and my favourite show is on TV? The answer is simply to go and watch the show – as long as you have provided another sloth in your day ( be it in the morning, afternoon or evening) when you will do the work you were supposed to do. This takes a bit of discipline but it works. If used properly flexible time-tables yield more results compared to the fixed and often unattainable regimes imposed by fixed time-tables. In summary it allows students to effectively combine both work and play and also enhances productivity.