Becoming a master of your time

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

How to map out your weeks

By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist

This thing all things devours:

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stones to meal;

Slays king, ruins town,

And beats high mountain down.

                  -Gollum, The Hobbit


What is that one thing that we never seem to have enough of? The thing that always seems elusive, that you can never master? Time. Gollum had a grim view of time, even if it was accurate. Time can really seem like a monster. It never stops to let you catch up. It marches along oblivious to our desires. Once it’s gone, you can never get it back. It’s hopeless. Isn’t it?

Being students means we never have enough time. Our typical classes run for four hours a week. If we want the minimum credits for full time, that’s probably about 12 hours. Most universities recommend that students spend two hours studying outside of class for every hour in class. That’s 36 hours. That’s besides doing class assignments. Factor in those and you can probably add another 12 hours. Don’t forget that it’s recommended that we get eight hours of sleep every night. That adds up to 104 hours out of your 168 hour week. We haven’t even gotten around to the necessary meals and hygiene. How are we ever going to socialize or fit in anything fun? Do not despair, there is hope. All you have to do is take control of your time. It’s relatively easy, really. All it requires is some proper planning and thought. Anyone can do it.

The first thing that you need to do to take control of your time is to assess where it is going. Sit down and write down all of the activities you usually do in a week. Then, you need to determine how much time each activity takes. Don’t forget things like getting dressed, doing dishes, or getting the mail. All of these little things do add up. When your list is completed, you can go over it and really see where you spend all of your time.

Don’t cheat yourself. If you spend a lot of time daydreaming, then make sure you have that down. This is to help yourself, and cheating won’t do that. After you can see your time, then it’s time to start planning. All you need is something that is so helpful that we’ve been using them since the first civilizations—calendars! To begin with, it is a good idea to create a semester-based calendar. This is your master calendar where you put down all of your important activities. Start with all of your semester deadlines and obligations. Putting them all in one place like this will allow you to see how much time you need to dedicate to each class. Then you can add your extracurricular activities, social events, etc. Remember to update it regularly should any dates change. This calendar will be your friend and warn you about important things coming up. If you’d like to maximize your time, it is also a good idea to set up a more detailed weekly calendar. Use your semester calendar to help you set this up at the beginning of the week. Going even further to help yourself, you can set up a daily plan as well. Every evening before you go to bed, look at your weekly calendar to see what you need to accomplish the next day.

Make a list. If something is time-specific, prioritize that and work everything else around it. Put the things you want to do least at the beginning so that you can get them over with. During the day, cross things off your list as you finish them. At the end of the day reward yourself for finishing all of your tasks. If you didn’t finish your list, think of reasons why. Were you procrastinating? Did you run into difficulties? Or was your list just too long? Planning these calendars might seem like a lot of time wasted when you could be doing something else, but actually taking the time to plan your schedule in advance saves you time in the long run. After some practice, you’ll be able to determine how much time each activity takes. The key to making your schedule work is to make it balanced and realistic. Plan ahead, and you will become a master of your time.