Diwate: Time management requires productivity and realistic goals


Illustration: Ryan Francois/Iowa State Daily

A new semester brings new schedules, challenges and time constraints to students, and each student has the same amount of time in a semester. Daily columnist Varad Diwate offers some tips you can use to begin managing your time now, before you develop bad habits.

Varad Diwate

The start of a new semester brings to us new classes, friends and schedule. As for our schedules, we divide most our time between classes, homework, work and home. Even with more or less the same things to do, everybody ends up with different productivity in a single day. Some people get all their priorities done and still find quality time while others struggle through everyday homework and tests. There are elaborate planners among us who have their schedules planned and pinned up in rooms, another one in their phones and another in an online calendar. Such individuals successfully manage time if they stick to their schedules.

The same 24 hours of a day teach something different to everyone. Some learn nothing while some learn enough to move forward in life. It is all about making the most of your available time. So there are some things I plan to do this semester, and these steps can be helpful to any college student.

There are two approaches to making the most of your time: being more productive while you are working and cutting down on “useless time.” If you really concentrate hard on the task at hand and do not get a bit lazy while studying, you are already doing the best in your working time. So one hour of studying means just studying. No texting or Internet. However, I find this to be a difficult approach as you are likely to get restless during a single study session. I find it useful to walk around a bit or listen to music for some time before I get back to my desk.

There is a lot of scope for improvement in the second aspect as most of us do waste our time, knowingly or unknowingly. So, there are a few options to improve on this. Get your priorities right. You definitely need to give more time to your project due next week than attending the latest concert in town. Setup realistic time schedules. Assignments and papers take up more time than we assume. So allot sufficient time for each task.

And for my weekend partying friends, take it easy. Though I don’t agree, most people say that partying on weekends help to relieve the mind for a while after a busy week. I find weekends can be put to lot more productive uses. By productive, I mean not just studying but anything that adds to your overall wellbeing. For some it might be watching a movie; for others it might be about curling up with a book or simply having an afternoon siesta on a cool afternoon. All these definitely help soothe the mind and leave some time for studying. It is a better option than partying all weekend and fretting about the homework due on Monday.

Also, I find it useful to separate tasks as productive and unproductive. For me, reading an article counts as productive while watching mindless funny videos on Youtube is unproductive. Accordingly, you can cut down on the unproductive time. Sometime during the last semester, I realized that I was spending at least an hour every day watching TV show clips on various websites. Now, I try to keep to track of my time on the internet.

The main culprit in ruining our schedules are possibly our favorite technological tools. If you start on the internet, unsure of what to do, you may well end up watching a movie online or spending hours on social networking sites. So you click on the browser as you need to do the all-important homework on Blackboard. But you just think of starting with a cool music video or a look at your Facebook profile. There you go: you forget the Blackboard homework and instead start with clicking links on Facebook. Another culprit is the video game. I have friends who power up their gaming consoles while intending to play “just for some time.” But, game after game, they spend at least a few hours.

These activities can easily eat away your time. There is a simple solution: fix a time limit whenever you go online or grab the gaming console, stop as soon as you reach the time limit. There is even a simpler solution: stay away, especially during a study break. Instead, get back to your favorite gizmos as a reward for completing your studies.

As author Stephen R. Covey puts it, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” We can definitely master time management and be a lot more efficient.


Varad Diwate is a freshman in journalism from Nashik, India.