Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. Shakespeare is one of the most renowned poets of all time, for me to open my mouth or, in this case, raise a finger in opposition to the wisdom he so adamantly blessed us with is shear madness. I, however, beg to differ. I have never been, nor will I ever be a believer in fate. So when he says some are born great, I disagree. True greatness is achieved through hard work, planning and consistency, not DNA.
Reading through memoirs of some of the great men of our generation such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, I found a strange, yet common trend among them. All of them are self confessed early risers and time planners. Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world, wakes up as early as 4 AM in the morning to get an early start to his day and to plan the activities (Wallace & Erickson, 1993). Why a man who has enough money to eliminate the need ever to wake up or leave his home for the rest of his life again wakes up so early every day? The answer is simple- time. Time is one of the most valuable, yet perishable resources accorded to human beings. Bill Gates realized that behind every successful man is not a strong woman - behind every successful man is a series well-planned and well-spent days.
Time management can be thought of as a process that involves efforts to plan and organize the manner in which to allocate ones time to specific activities through the day (Crossan, Cunha, Vera & Cunha-2005). The result of effective time management is working smarter, rather than harder, which ultimately results in getting done more things in less time. Effective time planning and management is especially beneficial when time is tight and pressure to perform is relatively high. As a student, time is more often than not limited, and pressure is constantly high, therefore, necessitating effective time management.
Being a student, planning for an entire day is quite difficult because an other people would normally have steady employment, and most jobs outline exactly when you need to report, the kind and amount of work expected to be done, and when to leave. Freedom is not a luxury that employees can boast of having. Students, on the other hand, have the gift of freedom, which is, unfortunately, a double-edged sword.
For a student, freedom means that you can choose when to attend a class and when to skip it, the number of lectures to attend and many other seemingly minute decisions. More often than not, as a student, we abuse this freedom attending as few lectures as possible - just enough to qualify to pass the class. The words of William Penn: "Time is what we want most, but use worst" - should be tattooed on every student's wrist. There are some activities that students would wish to achieve by the end of each day. Some of them are exercising, eating, studying, relaxing, interacting with friends and finally, sleeping.
The first, and probably the most critical step in organizing your day is arranging these activities into a priority list - placing the tasks from the most urgent to the least urgent. Unknown to many, the most important activity of a persons day is sleep. Enough sleep (6-8 hours a night) , influences mood, brain activity, responsiveness and even physical health to some extent (Watson, Badr, et al., 2015). An effective schedule will, therefore, place top priority to enough hours of sleep and will fit all other activities of the day into a sixteen-hour schedule. To determine this effectively, begin by setting a fixed hour of the day that you will wake up at, preferably early in the morning. I would recommend six AM.
Second on the priority list is food. A proper diet goes a long way in guaranteeing a successful day and in the long run, a successful life or, in this case, semester. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - you have probably heard this before. It is repeated so adamantly because nutritionists, doctors and other health experts all agree, based on research and experience, that the first meal you consume each day provides the majority of the energy you will need to carry out the activities of the day. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and diner like a beggar are ideals to live by.
Third on the priority list should be the actual academic work, consisting of class attendance and personal study hours. For class attendance, let us assume that you have woken up at six, eaten and showered in half an hour. The majority of classes begin at 8 am. That gives you an hour and a half to get to the class and settle down. As soon as you have had breakfast, leave for school. If you get there early, which is very likely, take a seat in the lecture hall and revisit notes from the last lecture which will allow you be at par with the lecturer. Also, spend these free minutes to interact and socialize with your classmates.
If you combine the rest of the items on your priority list, you can kill the proverbial bird with one stone. After classes, join you friends for lunch and then take part in extra curriculum activities. I strongly recommend a sporting activity which guarantees fun, team work as well as much needed exercise.
Wallace, J. & Erickson, J., 1993. Hard drive: Bill Gates and the making of the Microsoft Empire, New York: HarperBusiness.
Crossan, M., Cunha, M.P., Vera, D. & Cunha, J., 2005. Time and organizational improvisation, Journal of Academy of Management 30(5), pp. 129-145.
Watson, N.F,, Badr, M.S., Belenky, G., Bliwise, D.L., Buxton, O.M., Buysse, D., Dinges, D.F., Gangwisch, J., Grandner, M.A., Kushida, C., Malhotra, R.K., Martin, J.L., Patel, S.R., Quan, S.F., Tasali, E., 2015 Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: A joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 11(6), pp. 591592.
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