Mastering Time Management

How I make sure I'm using my time well

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

There’s a reason we ‘spend’ time. Between university, work, music rehearsals and lawn bowls, I’ve learned methods to help me manage and use my own time effectively.

For me, time management means regularly weighing up the costs and benefits of the various tasks on my plate. If I can identify the value of doing a particular task, and estimate how much time I will need to invest in it, I can prioritise and spend my time accordingly.

For example, a university assignment might take several afternoons or a weekend to complete, but it has value because it’s worth 20% of a unit’s grade and needed for me to complete the unit for my degree.

Similarly, a music rehearsal might regularly occupy an evening (or three!) out of my week, but it is also rewarding because I spend time doing what I love, giving my brain an opportunity to step away from the stress of daily life. The key thing to recognise is that these moments of personal freedom are just as important as your other obligations.

The trick to managing all of these commitments is to keep in your mind what’s left to be done, and what’s coming up in the near future. Tools like a notepad or digital calendar are made for handling all of these commitments and deadlines, keeping them all in a single place. I use a combination of Google Calendar and Trello personally.

It’s not about scheduling every second of your day like a CEO, it’s about identifying the most important things in your schedule, so that you don’t run out of time down the track. Remember to set aside time for what you love, or the stress you place upon yourself will drive you into a spiral and you’ll end up burning out.

Time is your most valuable resource, don’t neglect spending some of it for your own sake.

This was originally written as a feature for the “Humans of IT” column of The Byte, the IT faculty newsletter at Monash University.