Dealing with University deadlines can be tough. Work can often build up and become seemingly impossible to complete. On countless occasions I recall spending endless hours ploughing through the masses of work which was due in the following days.
Not everybody will struggle to complete their work on time like me. I’m sure many of you will remain on top of deadlines and avoid the all night library marathon. For me and many more however, completing work on time is often no easy task. Organisation seemed to be the major problem for me. What seemed like a lengthy amount of time to hand in a piece of work often resulted in a considerable last minute challenge to get the work posted in the box.
I’m sure many lecturers tell you that it’s all about time management and how X amount of hours must be dedicated to your studies. Essentially they are correct, but I often struggled to take their advice and sometimes suffered the consequences as a result. I knew what was expected of me, I just needed a way of doing it for myself.
I distinctly remember the day I decided to do something about my time management issues. It was roughly around a week before I began my third year studies and I began to reflect on my struggle in getting to that stage. After addressing my issues I began to formulate ideas on how to deal with them. After literally a few moments of thought I came up with the idea, why don’t I start making a list? The solution was simple, why don’t I make a list of all the important things I had to do that day.
I must admit, making a list doesn’t sound like the most advanced or appealing way of dealing with the problem and at the time I thought it would never work. The more I began to think about it however, the more it made sense. Instead of making a long dull list of all the important, hard work and time consuming things I had to do that day I decided to create a structured plan of my day that incorporated a bit of everything.
After coming up with the idea for a list I decided to give it a trial run. I must admit the initial process of making my first list and following its instructions was a highly stimulating and rewarding for me. As comical and exaggerated as this may sound I ultimately gained a sense of achievement that day which triggered those emotions.
As is the case in many new pursuits, the novelty stage can often wear off and I certainly thought this would be the case with the idea of list making. Unlike the majority of my previous attempts to motivate me in time handling efficiency however I found that my new technique was easy to stick to and quite pleasurable .
The best way of understanding the concept of my list and how it works for me is to explain how it was developed. As a combined honours student I often find it difficult to keep on top of where I am for each subject. I therefore began by noting down everything I needed to do for each individual module that week in order of due date, length and importance. I then discovered that breaking this list down again into tasks for each day would be even more beneficial.
During the breaking down process I realised that my method of list making still remained far too serious and needed more appeal. As a result I decided to break my whole day up and include small rewards and incentives to get me through the work. For example a typical day’s list would include a small working task such as “begin dissertation research- find and read… book” which would be followed by another working task “begin journalism story”. After these working tasks I would include rewards or some form of distraction from work such as “watch TV” or “make lunch”. A variation of tasks would be repeated throughout the day and I would often include a greater incentive at the end of the day if all the tasks were completed.
Also each list would be varied in relation to what work needed doing and my particular mood. At this point some of you may be thinking that I’m some kind of maniac who has adopted an unnatural addiction to list making and life structure. I must admit list making is slightly addictive, but this is not to say that I stick to them religiously and neither should you. It’s often the case that you make a list and something will come up that makes it virtually impossible to do what you’ve set out to do. Alternatively there might just be a day where you can’t be bothered or you just don’t feel the need to make a list.
At the end of the day it’s not the end of the world if your University life doesn’t run like clockwork. If you do find your struggling with University work however why don’t you have a go at making a nice informal list to guide you through the day? I gave list making a go and it worked for me, who knows it could for you too.