Most of us have fallen victim to procrastination at at least one point in our lives. (Come on now, don’t deny it. You know you’ve procrastinated). I feel it goes a little something like this:
Me: I have an essay due in a few days! I haven’t started so I should probably start.
Me: I hear you, I hear you. But wait, just hear me out. I have a good idea. Why not watch an episode of The Walking Dead on Netflix? You need to relax a bit so you can think better!
Me: …Yeah you’re right. That’s a great idea!
And all the while, you feel like this:
Now it’s the night before the essay is due and you somehow managed to marathon an entire season’s worth of episodes in those few days, along with attending your classes and getting minimal work done for them. You begin your paper:
After the sun has risen, signifying the imminent end of your all-nighter—and you miss the sunrise because you’re too busy writing your paper—you finally think, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep finishing all my assignments the night before.”
And lo, it begins: the path to better time management. However, that’s usually where it ends too, because we tell ourselves we must stop doing certain things, i.e. stop attempting to watch a season of a show in an hour, but often have no idea how to carry out the rules we’ve set for ourselves. I had a problem similar to this last semester. I was juggling difficult classes with extracurricular activities, and was in dire need of a stricter schedule. After a considerable amount of research, I devised a solution for myself. I present to you:
The Most Inflexible Schedule Ever
Although it looks daunting and unaccommodating now, I believed this schedule would help me organize my time better. It didn’t entirely. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Here’s what I did: I blocked out my time, using Microsoft Excel. What that means is I set aside a specific amount of hours for a specific homework assignment or class. I had a “Time” column and a “Days” row, and my time interval was every hour. I put in my class times next, and then worked around those times, inputting blocks for homework assignments or readings for classes. My schedule usually started at 9:00 AM instead of earlier because I’m a night owl and prefer to stay up and work later at night. I was so strict with myself that I had even put in shower and sleep times. (It shows you just how fed up I was of not being efficient enough). I also put in consistent meeting times.
To make the schedule easier to read, I colored the class blocks a darkish blue and colored the consistent daily activities of showering and getting ready in the morning a light blue. I also capitalized showering, sleeping, and getting ready, because for me, they made the schedule easier to read. The outlined blocks were office hours.
Of course, this is an extreme version of time management with almost no flexibility, specifically composed by someone who was frustrated with a lack of efficiency. I’d say I followed about 50% of the schedule, and that may be a gracious overstatement. I had other meetings I was unable to put in, due to the fact that they were never consistent, and the lack of flexibility in the schedule meant I lost time for work for some of my classes because of them. I also had spaces between class with nothing to do, which I attempted to solve by getting work done but most often found myself on my phone. With this experience, I finally understood that a healthy schedule included some routine and some time set out for homework.
I suggest this, that it may be easier to input class times and some homework assignments, leaving the rest of the schedule up in the air for flexibility. However, too much flexibility can also be disadvantageous. The struggle is in finding a balance. After all, that is the struggle of life itself: balancing yourself and your needs with your surrounding and its needs. But that’s an entirely different topic, for perhaps another day.