Time Management for Students

It’s official – there just aren’t enough hours in the day.It’s an outrage that we only have 24 to play with and yet they still expect us to waste up to a third of them kipping during this time span.

In an attempt to wring out some more precious seconds from my daily activity, I personally haven’t slept since the summer solstice. If I nod off mid-sentence, gimme a nudge.

I don’t know if you know but there are actually LESS than 24 hours in a single day (if the astronomers are to be believed). I’m not sure how it’s calculated but I think a day works out at around 23 hours and 57 minutes which is why we have leap years and stuff. If we didn’t, we’d eventually be celebrating new year in mid-afternoon in the third week of March which would be really inconvenient if it clashed with Countdown.

These three additional minutes are great though. It means we have an extra 180 seconds to procrastinate each day – yet another opportunity to put off descaling the kettle.

“Jeremy, how on earth can we make best use of our time then?”

Well my poor misguided, time-deficient friends, there are number techniques you can use such as getting off your collective backsides and doing something today rather than leaving it until tomorrow.

It may be nice to feel that you’ve postponed your daily schedule so that you’re able to watch the ball game tonight but if it means that you have to write a 20,000 word thesis on the real time distributed control system for a flexible micro-robot before breakfast tomorrow it’s not likely to be that productive.

What I’d like to do now is relay a story to you, which I’m sure many of you will know, about a time management expert who was taking a class with some high achieving business students. He made a point in a visual way that those assembled would never forget.

“Okay, quiz time” he said and he then proceeded to put on the table in front of him a one-gallon wide-mouth jar. Next he produced about a dozen large rocks which he then placed, one by one, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside he asked: “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class called out: “Yes.” but then he said: “Really?”

From under the table he pulled out a bucket of gravel which he poured into the jar and slowly they worked themselves down into the space between the rocks.

“Is this jar full now?” he asked but by this time the class could see what was happening. “Probably not.” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

Next, he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand which again he poured into the jar, filling the gaps between the rocks and the gravel and again he asked the question.

“Is this jar full?”, “No!” the class shouted together.

Finally he took a pitcher of water and began pouring it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then the expert in time-management looked at the class and asked: “What is the point of this illustration?”

One student raised his hand and said: “No matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit some more things in if you try hard enough?” “No,” the speaker replied, “The point of this illustration is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

Very interesting don’t you think? One important question springs to mind though – where did he get the rocks, gravel and sand from? Did he raid a builders yard or has he wrecked some poor old dear’s landscaped garden. I guess we’ll never know.

Seriously, you do need to look at what your big rocks are. They could be your children, spouse, your education, dreams, a worthy cause or your health. If they are important to your life you need to sweat the little stuff which in this case is the gravel and the sand (which must be really clogging up your pores) so that you can have the quality time required to concentrate on the rocks. Work out what these are and put them into your schedulenot literally unless you want a very large paperweight.

Time to go. If I can schedule it, I’ll be back next week unless I get a better offer from the girl at the bakery!

CRUSTY’S CHALLENGE: Landscape my desk with a rockery and an attractive water feature.