So time is constant, it never changes, except to continue to change…We are taught how to take control of our time, how to ‘manage’ it, but maybe we can’t control it. Maybe the question we should be asking is ‘how do I make better USE of my time?’ Shouldn’t we be learning how to work with time, instead of against it?
From my experience, the question shouldn’t be ‘how do I take control of my time?”, but instead ‘how do I make better use of my time’. We’ve gotta work WITH time instead of AGAINST it.
‘Time management’ is the popular term used and abused by our teachers, principals, deans, parents and councillors. An individual cannot manage time! If anything, time manages US.
“I’ll give this girl 24 hours per day and this guy also 24 hours but she will be visited by my trickster sister procrastination for 3 hours before starting her assignment and he will be visited by my quirky aunt inspiration and work with focused attention on the same task in the same amount of time. Mwahaha!”
– XOXO Time
The girl is given feedback to plan ahead of writing assessment tasks as it was clearly a ‘night-before job’. The guy is mentioned in the newsletter for his intellectual and creative analysis. How can an analysis even be creative? I’ll get to that in another post…back to the point: time allows each of us 24 hours in a day. How we spend our time is entirely up to us (not aunty inspo, cousin procrastination or mother motivate).
How to Set Parameters for Your Time
Having a set schedule helps many people get shit done. For some it motivates, for others it kicks them in the ass and for some more it inspires. If procrastination weren’t a thing we all battle with, scheduling would be quite a flawless concept. But alas, we are crippled by our own unfocused minds and our carefully prepared schedules are often kicked to the curb. One way to combat procrastination is to actually SCHEDULE IT! Set aside 1 hour when you get home to just potato around as you wish. Genius…
This trick helps you get MORE shit done. Consider this idea that tasks will expand to fill the time allocated for its completion. This theory is called Parkinson’s Law. It could explain why some students complete the assignment in 4 hours the night before its due and get the same mark as someone who worked on it steadily over 2 weeks.
When there is a clock running down to a very small, very tangible number, our focus heightens and closes in on the task at hand. Well for this to work, you need to have some level of care about the task at hand. Note that I am not suggesting that you should do this every time you get an assignment as that would increase stress and is not always going to work. But consider this idea in the way you can use it in your planning. Set less time aside to work on the task than you think is necessary. This will allow for you to achieve more in less time, thus making room for other things (like scheduled procrastination!).
How to Set Priorities
While completing my HSC, I was to spending 20 minutes an afternoon just making plans and to-do lists, trying to be strategic and spend my time wisely. Occasionally I would wonder if this was really the best use of my time, but it made me feel like I was on track and making the most of my time. So if to-do lists are your thing, go on jotting, my friend! But perhaps consider alternative ways of defining priority in those lists.
Rory Vaden, a ‘Self-Discipline Strategist’, suggests the technique of multiplying your time. Obviously this is technically impossible but see the equation below as it redefines the way we prioritise:
Importance (how much does it matter) x Urgency (how soon does it matter) x Significance (how long will it matter) = thinking like a ‘multiplier’
Instead of ‘what’s the most important thing I can do today?’ think ‘what can I do today that would make tomorrow better?’. By considering what you can spend time on today that will give you more time in the future, you are effectively multiplying your time.
If you put in 2 hours studying for a certain subject today that means everyday after (for a little while) you can just spend 30 mins revising briefly and maintain your knowledge of that content.
This concept goes way deeper than I’ve covered here but becomes less relevant to the lives of a student, but if you are working as well, or just want to get more philosophical, go check it out here.
The Links List
I know you’re time is precious, or at least the way you spend your time is precious, so I’ve curated a little list of links that speak more to this idea of time being in control and us navigating our way through it. Maybe use these as a way to wind down, pick one and spend the time really enjoying the content.
Comedian George Carlin – Does the time bother you? (approx 10mins)
Very funny and thought-provoking skit about the many meanings of time.
Rory Vaden – How to Multiply Your Time (approx 20mins)
The TEDx talk that I refer to regarding setting priorities. Very interesting and worth watching the whole thing.
Marie Forleo – How to Double Results and Actually Work Less (approx 5mins)
A brief article about how business woman Marie Forleo discovers Parkinson’s Law in relation to her own work.
Marie Forleo – How to Overcome Procrastination (approx 4mins)
An interesting little clip detailing a few steps to combatting that trickster cousin called procrastination.
David Allen – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (approx 20mins)
A TEDx talk about how moments of crisis can emulate an entirely focused mind.