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Srijani Datta

SFU Student Graduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Political Science

person holding an analog clock in front of their face
I have put together this blog with the combined knowledge from a number of us time-management-strugglers... With all our knowledge combined, you will be set on the path to success both at work and at school.

We all have deadlines, no matter what we do for work or school. So, time management is a skill that everyone needs. Effective time management can help you perform better in school and at work while also keeping you from stressing out. But, effective time-management is a skill almost everyone struggles with. However, I have put together this blog with the combined knowledge from a number of us time-management-strugglers. Hopefully with all our knowledge combined, you will be set on the path to success both at work and at school.

Academic Time-Management

Schoolwork is always a bit of a long haul, so the planning process starts at the beginning of each academic year and gets adjusted based on each semester’s workload. One of the most detailed articles on academic time-management is at York university’s website. This article talks about a cyclical system that requires you to go through the following steps:

  1. Set your goals for the school year or semester.

  2. Track your time schedule and be aware of where you spend the most time.

  3. Make to-do lists and plan your week ahead of time. If possible, do it for the whole month.

  4. Self-monitor to make sure you can keep up with your own plans and make future plans based on patterns you have noticed yourself.

  5. Adjust your schedule to use more time where you intended rather than somewhere you did not account for in your plans.


Tried and Tested Strategy from a Time Chaser

I have tried these steps myself and found them quite useful. But over time I had to tweak the steps to suit my own style. In this section, I have listed the method which keeps me on track with my multiple course work and work deadline. My tool of choice is an excel sheet, but feel free to use whatever method suits you best.

  1. Goals: First, prepare a list of long-term goals to accomplish – e.g. find a full-time job for next term. This will be the first column in the excel sheet.

  2. Tasks: Next, break the task down to its component pieces – e.g. decide which kinds of jobs I want; write resume; basic points for all cover letters etc. This is the second column.

  3. Time: This column in excel will include first the total time you think you need to achieve the complete goal (e.g. January – April), and then the time you would want to allocate for each task (Monday to Wednesday, 3PM to 5 PM - Resume).

  4. Reflection and Re-Evaluation: After the first week, try to find out if you are sticking to your own schedule and which tasks require more and/or less time than you originally thought, then update next week’s schedule for the same.

Strategy for Handling Daily Minor Tasks

Fellow OLC contributor Mike Wong has an interesting take on working smarter not harder. I find his method rather useful when it comes to managing time doing routine tasks and chores around the house. The method is called OHIO and the 4Ts. OHIO stands for, "Only Handle It Once". Mike says, 

“Instead of coming back to the same task over and over again, either start it and handle it, or leave it alone until you have time to actually do it completely.”

This will help you limit the time you spend on a task. The 4 T's - Tackle It, Task It, Toss It and Transfer It - will help you organize your time effectively. 

  • Tackle It: No matter what the task, be it replying to an email, doing your laundry or meal-prepping for the week, once you begin the task make sure you finish it. 

  • Task It:  If it’s a task you don’t intend to handle immediately designate a time for it. Put it in your phone if that helps you take it more seriously.

  • Toss It: If the task has no real impact on your life nor any negative consequence, Mike suggests tossing it. 

  • Transfer It: If possible, delegation can also be an option. For instance, if you have a particularly busy school week, you can delegate the chores at home to your sibling or roommate and take on their load next week.

Final Tips

The tips above can help you handle your daily work and long-term goals together. But before wrapping up this piece here are some general rules to keep in mind:

  • Procrastination: The key to time-management is not wasting your time, so try to procrastinate the procrastination till after you have finished important work.

  • Saying No: Always remember you are human and not a machine, so if you think you can only take on a certain amount of work allow yourself to refuse more.

  • Prioritize: Identify all time-sensitive work and immediate goals, and prioritize them.

Learning to say no and prioritizing your core duties are always most important. Another OLC contributor, Sugandha Agarwal says,

“In terms of asking for more responsibilities, I usually evaluate my own workload first before taking on additional work. On slow days, I am happy to lend a hand but at times, when I am unsure of how much more I can do, I politely refuse more work. Taking on more than you can do will only lead to stress and poor outcomes.”

You can read more about her experience here.

I hope with these tips I've provided, on behalf of all time-management-strugglers, you are able to manage your time better!


Srijani Datta

SFU Student Graduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Political Science
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