A laptop screen showing a calendar on the left and a person studying in the right. A Tim Hortons coffee is placed next to the laptop

My reflection on time management

Last Tuesday, I attended a Time Management Bootcamp hosted by Academic Success. This workshop allowed me to reflect on my own time management strategy and how I learnt to be more comfortable in managing my time now.

P.S: There are multiple Time Management Bootcamps (and other workshops!) being run by the Academic Success team. You can 100% find one that works for your time!

Time management is a skill that you need to practice every day. Unfortunately, there is no magic to acquiring such skill. When I started to be more aware of how I manage my time, I remember feeling quite frustrated at myself for not following my plans.

Well, I’ve learnt that IT IS OKAY if something messes up with your schedule. Whether it’s your gym time or your hangout time, sometimes there are going to be unexpected events that force you to change plans. Remember to stay grounded.

I use time-blocking as my main time management strategy. For those of you who are unfamiliar, time blocking is breaking off a set amount of time to do a certain job. Sometimes, I even use it to remind myself that I have to do something. I’ve given an example below.

Time blocking: what it is and how to do it (plus apps) – Clockify Blog
Image credit: Clockify

Note: Do I follow my blocked-times strictly? NO. Sometimes I finish early; sometimes I’m just having a bad day; sometimes I do not put my schedule in the calendar.

In the Bootcamp, the peer facilitator mentioned the differences between deep work and shallow work, which makes me reflect on my own studying patterns.

What counts as deep and shallow work depends on you! If you’re wondering more about the concept of deep work, you can check out Cal Newport’s Deep Work. I’ve read it once, and while some of the methods provided may not necessarily apply to all of us, the underlying concepts did give me a new perspective about staying focus and creating habits.

There are days when I feel more distracted or lethargic than usual. These are the days where I do not do deep work. Personally, deep work means doing practice questions, creating topic summaries, or revising for tests. Deep work requires you to allocate your energy and attention, and they usually involve tasks where you need a huge chuck of time. Therefore, on days when I’m distracted, I am not able to perform them effectively.

I prefer completing shallow work when I know I’m not feeling up for harder studying. Shallow work includes tasks that require less attention. To me, that is finishing (more like skimming) my reading materials, going through quick quiz questions (quizzes that do not take much time), and completing things for my clubs or work-study.

To decrease distractions, I often go over the logistical stuff before I go into my study flow. I check emails, I find music, I write down a to-do list, and go through everything else that makes me feel less restless.

There are TONS and TONS of tips and strategies out there. The best way to find what works for you is honestly through trial and error. It is a process that can feel overwhelming, but I want to remind you to take one step at a time. It is a skill that needs to be practiced, not something you get out of nowhere, so be patient with the journey!

I’ve also listed down my resources/go-to as I began my "manage my time better" journey (there are also different versions on the Internet). I hope they help you too!

Pomorodo (with Piano music) - my life saver in for high school senior year!!

Cold Turkey: Website Blocker - my Covid-19 lockdown best friend!!

Forest: Chrome Extension

Study with me playlist (Youtube: AhBao)

Atomic Habits by James Clear - my absolute life-changing read!

Google Calendar - everyone's basic but bestest best friend

You can also check our student bloggers' posts on managing their time!

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