Time Is In Short Supply. Use It Wisely.
15 min read
By knowing your time and workload, you’re already way ahead of the majority of the students around you. Don’t lose that advantage now. Make the best of it being as efficient as you can possibly be.
So what do I mean by efficiency? Here are a few definitions:
- Achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
- Working in a well-organized and competent way.
- Preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource.
Efficiency for students is really about maximizing the quantity and quality of time.
Quantity is about when you study. It’s about finding as much usable Study Time as you can and not wasting a minute of it. It’s about having a sense of urgency to relentlessly keep getting things done with the minutes you have.
Quality is about where you study. It’s about removing distractions and staying completely focused on getting the most done with every minute that you have.
Flip The Switch
What comes before either is commitment. College is a business. It requires a level of hard work, dedication and sacrifice that many are not willing to make. It requires a tremendous amount of self discipline to get the work done first in the face of endless alternatives to avoid it.
When it comes to studying in college, you have to be either on or off. You must have the discipline to shift yourself into study mode and stay there until your tasks are done.
Know when you are going to work and when you are going to have fun. Don’t let anything or anyone distract you from either.
The problem with too many students is that they are always in a zone of uncertainty. They allow distractions to delay them or pull them away from their studies.
When they’re out having fun, they’re in a constant state of uncertainty about having enough time for the things they have coming up. They think they can get everything done, but they don’t really know for sure.
Knowing your time and workload is a start but sticking to your plan is what makes it happen. When it’s time to study, study. When it’s time to have fun, slam the books shut and go have fun knowing that you’re completely in control of your time and you workload.
With the Shovel app you can flip the switch with confidence.
Have A Consistent Routine
The best way to flip the switch is to establish a consistent daily routine. If you want to run like a business, then operate like one. That means opening and closing at the same time every work day.
One routine is better than two or more. You might have a class at 8:30 a.m. on two days and other days you don’t start until 11:00. Get up at the same time every day.
First of all, it’s very hard to have widely varying sleep patterns. Most people just can’t do that. It makes it hard to get up and go to sleep on a consistent schedule. Varying your sleep times creates a roller coaster of sleep deprivation and poor time management.
Secondly, it’s too easy to fall off of your routine. You’ll find yourself sleeping in on days you should be getting up.
Don’t even try to run your life that way. Just get up at the same time, every weekday, no matter when you have your first class. I don’t care if you have class at 8:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. Just get up.
I know I’m probably not going to win this one, but try it sometime.
Obviously on Friday and Saturday nights go have as much fun as you possibly can. Reward yourself after a hard week of work and stay up till sunrise for all I care.
Stick To The Plan
The purpose of the Time exercise was to find the study times that you know you could commit to. It may take you a few weeks to finally settle into your your weekly study plan. Whenever you do, commit to it ruthlessly. Don’t let anything or anyone change the plan. Just say ‘no’.
One of the most common things I hear from students is that it’s impossible to plan a tight schedule in college because everything is so spontaneous.
My reply is always the same—of course you can. You already do.
If class is at 10:00 a.m., are you there? When the boss says work starts at 8:00 a.m., are you there, or do you prefer to get fired?
You already do show up on time. In fact, you might even arrive early.
Students somehow manage to get all kinds of other things done on time. You can and should set your Study Time every bit as precisely as anything else you do. Treat study time blocks just like any other firm commitment you have.
Don’t be late. Ever.
If your evening library time starts at 6:30 p.m., that means in your seat, book open, pen in hand, ready to go. Or even better, be there at 6:15 to get things set up.
Treat every single Study Time block the same, no matter how big or how small it is. Show up on time and work the time you set. It’s just that simple.
Shovel app can do an amazing job of showing you exactly how much time you have and need to get things done, but it’s only as good as how well you follow it.
If your plan isn’t realistic for some reason then change it. Just don’t pretend to be studying when you know that you aren’t. Just be honest with yourself. If you aren’t it just screws up your whole study plan.
Compare The Value Of Time
One last thing and I’ll move on. I realize that college is spontaneous and that you are constantly being pulled between competing interests. The options are endless and it’s always easy to put off your work until later. There is nothing wrong with that, but understand that it always involves a tradeoff.
Sitting around with your friends now may mean missing something you wanted to do later. Which has more value?
The problem is that students rarely think about these tradeoffs. They only think of the here and now. They hang out and put off doing homework until later.
Chances are the nothing you’re doing now doesn’t remotely equal the something you really want to do later. But once the time is wasted, you can’t get it back. You just made a tradeoff.
At least start asking the question: “Is time used now worth less or more than later?” I don’t know about you, but doing something at noon was always better than doing it at midnight.
Just don’t go there.
If in doubt, always assume that time spent studying now is always worth more than doing it later. Your stress will be less and time ahead gives you options.
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