Think about the following statements and consider whether you agree, then click the statement to reveal further insights.
1. I get my things ready for the next day’s study or work the night before
This is a good thing to do. It means that you do not have to rush in the morning.
2. I get stressed if I am late
Many people get stressed if they are late and then often blame external situations. Other people seem to have no problem being late for something.
Depending on the culture(s) of the individuals concerned, being late may or may not be a problem, though in many western cultures, being late for a group meeting is not acceptable (and being late for an interview will never be helpful).
3. I rarely plan anything and would prefer just to deal with whatever comes along at the time
This very reactive approach to life is very relaxing in the short term, but will be unlikely to help you in the workplace.
It would be much better to think ahead so that you can avoid crises (see the ‘Time Management Matrix’ later on in the chapter).
4. I get annoyed when I have to wait for others to come to pre-arranged meetings
In western culture people expect others to be on time, and when that does not happen then there is a sense of impatience.
In reality, few of us are always on time the time and there are occasions when external events prevent us from being where we should be – so a little patience helps sometimes.
5. I find doing many things at the same time very easy
Some people are very good at this, while others are not. Working lives are often very complex, so the more we are able to do several things at once the better. Multi-tasking, as it is known, usually requires help from technology.
6. I think I need someone else to help organise my life: I always forget what I should be doing or who I should be meeting
Maybe we do need someone to help us with this, but if we are always dependent on another person, then we will struggle at university and at work: few people are in a position to request a personal assistant at work.
The best idea is to become proficient at using an electronic diary, and particularly the one on our phone, which can give us warnings about any forthcoming meetings and activities we need to undertake.
7. I have been known to lose my keys or my bags quite regularly
This is a challenge that many people have: the reason why this is included in a chapter on time management is because we then tend to spend a great deal of wasted time looking for them.
If we put these in the same place regularly, then we will be much less likely to lose them.
8. I have and use a diary
That is good: the chapter will discuss how to use a diary.
9. I find waiting for others or waiting for events to start really frustrating: why should I waste time waiting?
As mentioned above for item 4, this is a natural reaction.
However, time spent waiting does not have to be ‘wasted time’, and can often be spent dealing with a few short emails or doing some preparation for a forthcoming meeting.
10. I often plan ahead and carefully think through every possible outcome
This is quite a good idea, although we can spend so long planning for and thinking through every possible outcome that we never actually do anything.
So there is a need for balance. We will rarely think of every outcome of a decision made, but if we take action without thinking of any outcomes, then we could be seen as negligent.
11. I know what I am doing tomorrow
Leaving the university without knowing which books you need to read or who you need to speak to about something in preparation for tomorrow is not a great idea, so yes – you need to know what you are doing tomorrow so you can ensure you are prepared.
12. I find there is nothing wrong with the excitement of doing everything at the last minute
For most human beings there is a lot of truth in this statement, and to some extent we all need some form of pressure to get something done.
However, most human beings also have lives over which they do not have 100% control, so while the saying ‘If something could go wrong, it probably will’ seems somewhat pessimistic, it does indicate a need to plan ahead.
13. If I find something hard, I will try and overcome the difficulties myself rather than ask for help
Pride can sometimes get in the way of asking for help. Sometimes we can try and do something that we cannot do and spend some time struggling with it.
It is quicker (and often more effective), of course, to get help from someone who knows how to do something quickly (and at a higher quality) than we do, but in order to do so we need to ask for help. Some people are better at doing this then others.
14. I ‘live for the moment’: tomorrow is another day which will take care of itself
This may not be your view, but it is not an uncommon view for young people starting university.
The problem is that many starting university will never have had to accept the consequences of their actions – but now there may not be anyone around to provide ‘protection’ against poor decisions. Becoming an adult means that you start to take responsibility.
15. I am not good at motivating myself over a long time for long projects
This is true for many students – especially in relation to dissertations (see Chapter 7), so there are some answers here. The best idea for many is to see a large project as a combination of smaller sequential projects which have much smaller timescales.
16. I need others to help me know where I should be and when
The comment here is not very different from the comment for item 6. Many employers will expect students to be able to manage their lives as students fairly effectively.
17. I find it easy to say ‘no’ to people who invite me for a meal when I have something more important to do
Some people find it easier than others to say ‘no’. Being able to do so means that you will have more control over your time.
If this is generally challenging for you, then consider why that is the case and maybe talk this through with a mature individual you trust.
18. I probably spend too much time watching TV, playing computer games or chatting to friends online
Personal change is not easy, but if you know that you spend too much time doing certain things and you have not done anything about changing such habits, then this might imply an unwillingness to change and develop in other areas of your life.
Have a look at some of the ideas in the chapter and see if any of them could help you. The next step is to implement these and to see how your life changes.
19. I am used to using electronic ‘tools’ (iPhone, iPad, PC, etc.) to organise my life
These can be very effective tools sometimes. The only advice here is to ensure that the batteries are fully charged and that you take note of what these tools are telling you.
20. I keep a record of things I need to do each day, and tick them off as they get completed
We all need a way of rewarding ourselves for doing things well, so this is a good idea. Something that is visible can be something that helps us to appreciate the progress we are making.
21. I believe that only the very best work will do: I need to be proud of what I have done
This is a good attitude to have – with one exception. There is a ‘law’ to behaviour and the quality of our outputs which runs like this: there comes a moment when we can try to increase the amount of effort/input we put into something but the increase in quality of output is only marginal.
Consider the situation where someone is putting a great deal of effort into an essay, and are now changing the font and layout. In reality, we want the piece of work to look good (and presentation might be part of the criteria for assessment), but the changes we are making are taking a great deal of time and it is the content which really counts. The extra effort and time do not add much value to the work.
Such minor changes can sometimes distract us from doing more important things.
22. I find it easy to begin assignments and essays
That is a good situation to be in. Some people really struggle to get started on important things.
23. I have all my lecture notes in a pile on my desk or on the floor (or similar)
The likelihood is that either (1) it will take you a great deal of time to find what you are looking for, or (2) you have lost some of your notes and you will not realise this until it is too late (e.g. when preparing for an examination).
The best idea is to get some folders of some sort and start to categorise the notes and handouts you have – and put any notes for the same subject into relevant folders. If that is not immediately possible, then simply categorise the notes until you can get some folders.
Of course, we can do the same with electronic documents: some people have computer desktops where they cannot find what they need to, so using folders to collate information is a basic requirement.
24. I am clear about my goals for this year of study
That is a good position to be in. Knowing our goals means we also know what we are aiming for, and as long as those goals are achievable and relevant to what we want to do after this year, then it is a good idea to develop a plan to achieve them.
25. I think that studying does not usually take that much time: I have got just a few hours of lectures and tutorials each week
Maybe, but expecting that you will learn all you need to learn from just a few hours of teaching, without accounting for independent reading and other forms of independent study, is going to leave you very short of information when it comes to assessment.
26. I have never had two appointments clashing at the same time
That is great. Life at university may well be a lot more complicated than previously, but if you are able to manage appointments well, then that is good.