When time is ticking past

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Being a student isn’t easy. Of course, things aren’t any easier in Sri Lanka thanks to its ongoing economic crisis amongst the many other issues that are spiralling out of control. Having to maintain the right state of mind as well as living your student life to the fullest isn’t easy and I’m sure more often than not you’ve wished you had more time on your hands to take care of the many tasks, assignments and other work you’ve got on your hands.

Balancing all of one’s work while remaining a healthy human being is what many call successful time management which is something that many struggles with even beyond their life as a student. “I never seem to have enough time in the day,” and “I’m still learning how to manage the time I have,” are very common phrases that I utter in frustration now and then.

Sadly, our current reality is the fact that the concept of time as we understand it is beyond our control. No wonder people struggle to control it; that’s a task even the most learned physics researchers have failed to grasp. In comparison, what we really have to do might seem a bit simpler, but others might say otherwise in jest.

Because time is something we will never have an adequate amount of, what’s needed is to manage ourselves with the time we have at our disposal. Easier said than done. But if you keep on reading, we’ve got a few ideas for you that will help in making your ability to use the time you have more success.

Efficiency v efficacy

Although it might be easy to confuse them, there’s a big difference between these two words. Being efficient might not be the most effective thing to do sometimes and understanding when to be efficient and effective can help you go a long way.

Being efficient is the skill of being able to make the most use of a resource you have, in this instance it’s time. Compare that with being effective, which helps you get the maximum outcome from the resources you invest.

For example, if you spend two hours covering a subject topic, you’re being efficient because you’ve made the most of your time. However, if the material you’ve covered is only surface-level allowing you to barely pass, you might have to compare that with a more effective solution that takes more time and resources, but helps you get a deeper understanding of the material you have to cover, which gives you a better chance at getting a better score and higher academic performance.

Balancing both efficiency and efficacy in their strategies is a key skill that most starting students get a strong grasp on early on, which helps them perform in a way that seems effortless, but in fact, they’re simply getting the most value from the time and effort that they put in.

Use caffeine sparingly

I love caffeinated beverages of every kind but even I know that although it may appear otherwise, caffeinated beverages (including energy drinks and coffee) are your enemy in this effort to maximise your efficacy and efficiency.

Don’t get me wrong; caffeine is a great tool that every student (and individual) should keep in their arsenal in this productivity-based world. But, overusing it can lead to caffeine dependence and a dampening of sensitivity meaning you’ll have to take in more and more caffeine to get the same effect. Continue this could lead to severe health complications in the long run.

If you’ve used caffeine regularly and frequently, don’t use any for about three weeks to let your system reset and then only use the substance when necessary. Your caffeine will hit better than ever before.

Basics matter

Of course, being off-caffeine might have you worried about your productivity, especially during working late nights. Well, my recommendation is to not work late into the night at all.

Instead, focus on some simple basic habits that maintain good health. Drink lots of water, exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes a day), eat a balanced diet and most of all, maintain a healthy and adequate sleep schedule, but you already know these things. A healthy body and mind is your greatest tool for being an effective student or anything.

Plan it out

If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Make it a habit to plan your activities and tasks each day, using ink and paper. A small daily planner I can keep in my pocket has been the most helpful for me.  Have your set appointments marked first and then your healthy habits. Then think of the most efficient but effective places and times you can get your daily tasks completed. Ideally, you would have all the daily tasks already listed out in bullet points but as long as you keep track of things it should be fine. Afterwards, you will be able to make the best of what time you have to work around. If you’re asked to do something new but you don’t have time for it and it’s not worth the effort, just say no.

Carpe diem

With these tools, you will have the basics of what you will need to make the most of yourself with the time you have.  It’s pretty easy to get ambitious and have a lot of work planned out, only to fail in completing that list at the end of the day. However, try to shift this mindset to realise that what matters is not how many tasks you have left, but how well you made the most of yourself with the time you have and “seized the day.”

There are days where you will do better and times where you will fall short, but as you work towards this all, I’m sure you will be on the path to becoming a greater, stronger and more effective student who won’t have to worry too much about their lack of time.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage