ACE YOUR TIME MANAGEMENT
Whether you’re a student at school or university, or an employee in the workplace, time management is absolutely essential. No matter how skilled you are in your studies, improper use of your time will result in a rush to meet deadlines. In turn, this will cause your work to be of a lower quality, more stress, and a less enjoyable experience of your studies. So, it definitely pays to find ways of managing your time effectively so that you can be at peak performance and make the most of your time at school or university.
WHAT IS TIME MANAGEMENT?
A sad fact about life is that we all have limited time. It often seems as though there aren’t enough hours in a day; we might have a lot of plans about what to do from day to day, but it’s hard to juggle between the things we want to do and the things we need to do. As a student, this is particularly difficult because there’s so much going on at both school and university. Between your studies, personal life, and taking care of yourself, it can be hard to balance all of your everyday duties as a student. Many students struggle to maintain a balance between all of their activities, meaning that their social life or studies suffer as a result of poor time management. If this rings true for you, then you definitely stand to benefit from learning time management techniques.
Time management is the art of making the most of the time you have to get as much done as possible. This sounds straight-forward enough, but many people struggle to manage their time effectively. To make time management easier to understand, let’s divide it into the following categories:
- Devoting the perfect amount of time to each of your tasks to ensure that the quality of your work is even throughout;
- Time-keeping skills to keep track of how long you have left to complete a task;
- Finding ways to maximise your efficiency during your working hours so that you have more time to spend on other activities;
- Knowing when to stop working to avoid diminishing returns in your work.
SAMPLE TIPS – TIME MANAGEMENT IN AN EXAM
When you’re in an exam, you have an extremely limited amount of time to complete it. Whether it’s 45 minutes or 3 hours, the fact is that you are under strict time constraints. Thankfully, the entirety of this time can be devoted to completing the exam; you don’t have to worry about any other tasks or responsibilities while you’re in the exam room.
Time management in an exam is a pretty straight-forward task; all you need to do is divide your time in a way which means you have plenty of time to complete every question with the highest possible quality. There are a few simple ways in which you can do this.
Time Management in an Exam
This is a fairly simple method of figuring out approximately how much time you have in an exam to answer each question. All it takes is a tiny bit of research beforehand, as well as some simple maths which can do on a calculator. This method is particularly useful for exams in which you have lots of questions to answer, such as Science or
- Before the exam, find out both the time limit and the total number of marks available. Then, divide the amount of minutes (e.g. 120 minutes) by the total number of available marks (50 marks). This will give you the approximate amount of time you have to secure each mark. In this example, you have 2.4 minutes for each mark.
- Using this methodology, you can figure out how much time you should spend on each question. In this example, a 1-mark question should be worked on for around 2.4 minutes, a 10-mark question should be attempted for 24 minutes, and so on. If you divide your time like this, you should be able to ensure that you have enough time to answer each question.
- Remember that these calculations only give you an approximation of how much time you should be spending on a question. Obviously, you’re going to need more time to answer questions which you find more difficult, and will probably need less time to attempt questions which you are more comfortable with. This is why it’s usually a good idea to take a look through the entire question booklet, scout out every question you’ll have to answer, and then quickly figure out how much time you’ll need for each question.
You can use the above method in essay-based exams as well. Let’s say that you have two hours to complete an exam (120 minutes). You also have two essay questions to complete. If these are worth the same amount, ten you split your time equally so that you have enough time for each. However, if one is worth more than another, you’ll need to do some simple maths to figure out how much time you should spend on each.
In this example, let’s say you have 120 minutes, and the total available marks is 50. One of the essays is worth a maximum of 30 marks, and the other is worth a maximum of 20 marks. This is a ratio of 3:2. Divide the total amount of time (120) by 5, giving you 24 minutes. This is the amount of time you have to score ten marks. Since one of the essays is worth 30 marks, multiply 24 by 3 to get the amount of time you should spend securing 30 marks (72 minutes). This means that you should spend 72 minutes on the 30-mark question, and the remaining 48 minutes on the 20 mark question. You can then use these figures to work out how much time you’ll need to plan your answer.
Many students taking essay-based subjects make the mistake of not planning their answers. However, many students instead make the mistake of planning an essay, but not taking planning time into account when figuring out how long they have to write their answer. Generally speaking, an essay plan should take somewhere between five and ten minutes, depending on how long the essay is.
The amount of time spent on your plan should be roughly proportional to how much time you have to answer it, and how many marks it’s worth. If you only have 15 minutes to write the answer, then there’s not much point in spending 5 minutes of it planning! Instead, do a quick 1-2 minute outline of your ideas before getting started.
However, if your essay is going to be much longer, you should take more time to plan. If you have an hour to write your response, you should try to spend 10 minutes on the planning stage. This also gives you an opportunity to remember all of the notes you’ll need from all of the revision you’ve done!
While it’s important to devote a good chunk of time to planning your essay, it’s just as vital that you don’t spend too much time on it. Ultimately, your plan isn’t for essay, so you won’t get marked for it! Make sure that your head on to your answer as soon as you’ve finished planning, and don’t waste time planning your essay.
In the majority of cases, there will be a large clock at the front of the exam room so that you’re able to keep an eye on the time. While this is useful, it requires you to stop and look up fairly frequently to make sure that you have time to write your answers. Rather than stopping to look up at the clock at the front of the room, bring a watch into the exam room so that you can quickly take a look at it without having to stop your train of thought. This way, you’ll be able to manage your time more effectively.
Hopefully, you’ve given yourself enough time to finish the question with a standard of quality that you’re happy with. If this isn’t the case, you might find that you’re running out of time! If this often happens to you, then you need to learn to cut your losses, wrap up a question as best as you can, and then move on to the next one.
Simply put, there’s no great way to abruptly end an essay. However, if you overrun on one answer, your next essay is going to suffer for it. For this reason, you should try and conclude your argument as quickly as possible.
Here are some tips for wrapping up an essay question as quickly as possible so that you can move on to the next one:
- If you make your essay more focused on a single idea from the very beginning, it’s less likely that your answer will get out of hand. If you aren’t moving too far away from the main core of your argument, it should be fairly easy to bring it full-circle if you need to finish up quickly.
- If you’re running out of time, finish your essay on the current point that you’re making. If possible, try not to shove the rest of your ideas into this paragraph, since this will make your essay look rushed and unsophisticated. Instead, try to link this final point back to the main argument of the essay as best as you can.
- Don’t spend too long on your conclusion. This is generally a good rule when writing essays, but is even more important if you’re running out of time. Try to summarise your argument in three sentences or less.
- Try and save time for some proofreading at the end. However, if you’re really short on time, just opt for a quick scan at the end of the test. If you’re running out of time, you won’t have the opportunity to make any significant changes to your essay anyway. Just try and catch any spelling or grammatical errors on your final read of the essay.
- If it helps, you can proofread each answer once you’ve completed it. For example, if you have two essays, then you can start by answering essay one. Once you’ve finished it, then you can proofread it. After that, move on to essay two. Then, once you’ve finished that, proofread it at the end. This might prevent you from stressfully reading through multiple essays in the final minutes of the exam.
SAMPLE TIPS – CUTTING DOWN ON LOST TIME
One of the greatest challenges for students who wish to improve their time management skills is how well they stay focused on the task at
hand. When you lose focus, you end up losing a little bit of time to procrastination, or simply staring into space. So, in this chapter we’ll be taking a look at the following areas:
- Staying motivated.
- Avoiding procrastination and staying focused.
This is a serious challenge for most students, especially when there’s lots of other things they would like to be doing. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
How Do I Motivate Myself?
Getting motivated to revise in the first place can be incredibly difficult, and requires a lot of determination and self-control. The earlier you start your revision, the better, but you’ll probably be tempted to put off revision: “I’ll start next week”, or “it’s way too early to start revising.” Start revising at least six weeks before your first exam. This should give you plenty of time to get through all of your topics.
However, even starting the process can be a pain, and when the exams are so far away it’s difficult to get the ball rolling. So, you need to motivate yourself to start revising as early and as well as possible. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can keep yourself motivated and make sure you get through your revision.
Start by finding revision styles that you actually enjoy. This might sound ridiculous, but if you can find a few techniques that aren’t completely unbearable, you’ll be more willing to make a start with revision. Remember that you don’t have to be constantly doing ‘hard revision’ such as note-taking. Mix things up and try a number of styles to keep things fresh early on, then maybe move into something more serious later.
Ease Into It
Before you start, revision can feel like a huge mountain, impossible to climb to the top of. It can be incredibly daunting. You might be overwhelmed by the feeling that you are completely unprepared and don’t know enough. That said, you need to make a start sometime. Some revision is better than no revision at all, so if you’re struggling to get started with your studies, ease your way into it.
Start by revising for a much shorter period of time, and maybe focus on the things that you already know well or most enjoy. Once you’re comfortable and confident, move onto something that you’re
less sure of.
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