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My time management tips
Hello there, I am Timea, an MA Architecture student and foodie. Having multiple passions and a creative mind, as well as loving to organise, I am here to tell you more about my style of time management.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of “work smarter not harder” and “don’t do tomorrow what you can do today’. These are just a few quotes that bombard us in time management to-do lists. To some, this may result in a discouragement or accumulation of frustration.
Time is the single thing that we can never recover and while we can be motivated, sometimes we need a pinch of structure to reach our targets. As a postgraduate Architecture student with a demanding course and enormous workload, I have learned the hard way a few basics of time management.
Creating a timeline
Firstly, I like to list all the tasks in a chronological order, checking deadlines. Making sure I have a clear visual of everything that needs to be done, it makes it easy to then prioritise based on several factors. Placing your tasks on a timeline, whether visually drawing out a schematic or just listing them in bullet points, makes it easy to view them, whether they are university assignments or house chores. In my experience, I have found that drawing and writing by hand makes it more efficient and engages more of my senses.
After creating this list, I start by mapping out the 10% most important of my tasks. So, for example, if I am dealing with ten separate tasks, I will need to choose one which weighs the most. Some factors to help me decide the importance of my tasks are: the amount of time it would take me to finalise the task, the level of focus I would need for completing it, or sometimes even the due date of the assignment. Usually, it is a cumulation of factors that determines my hierarchy, but it is not always the same factors that I need to take into consideration for each task.
In order to allow enough time for completion, prioritising is crucial because this way you will allocate time proportional to the importance of the task. As mentioned before, I decide the hierarchy of my tasks based on several factors, which will then influence the urgency of the task. Another aspect of prioritising that has been helpful for me, is making sure that the task I deem most important, will have been allocated to the beginning of the day, allowing for less urgent tasks to be approached later in the day when I am more tired or perhaps less focused. This gives me a sense of accomplishment and ease of mind.
Am I really advocating procrastination? Yes, but not the way you might think.
The first thought that comes to mind when we hear this word is a negative one. We imagine the classic image of a person avoiding their tasks by playing videogames or finding another game to take their mind away from reality. It is a manner of escapism that is providing a sense of temporary excitement but to the detriment of our real-life goals and responsibilities.
But why should procrastination have a negative connotation? Can we get the same excitement and mental rest that comes from escapism in a productive manner? Let me explain. During my time as a student, I have come to learn the true value of procrastination. If you are like me and need multiple activities in order not to lose focus and momentum, switching between tasks is the key to efficiency. If you chose to work on a main task, allow yourself windows of time to rest from that task. Switching to a new task will allow you to “procrastinate” from that main subject by doing your laundry or preparing a meal. Allowing yourself movement between tasks will keep you on your toes. What has worked for me very well in the recent months was baking and exploring new recipes. The act of preparing food is one of the most therapeutic activities for me. I encourage you to find yours!
Planning down time
Don’t forget to include the fun into your list of tasks. As I have found out, it is important to intertwine work with something relaxing or fun that allows me to recharge. In my case this can be anything from taking a walk in nature to taking a bubble bath or even baking a cake. Find an activity that feels therapeutic and calming for you. Having these tasks and leisure activities on a calendar in front of you all the time - whether on a piece of paper or on your phone - is a great way of keeping track of your progress.
We are all different. However, the tips I shared above, may apply to you as well. If all fails, take a short nap and regroup. Remember that ultimately, your mental and physical health are most important, and you will build your own path as well as create an efficient time management mechanism based on your own needs. Don’t get discouraged if it does not work out from the first try. The important thing is to keep trying and tweaking until you find the right fit.
Hi I'm Timea, a Postgraduate Architecture student with a passion for the environment. In my free time, I run a small multidisciplinary design studio and consider myself a “cake architect”, baking deliciously designed desserts for friends and family.