Managing time efficiently helps with big course load

Yunze Wu

Jiandong Xu tries to manage his time but doesn’t always succeed.

“I believe that learning to manage time is very important,” said Xu, a journalism major from Nantong city, Jiangsu Province, China, who was a sophomore in the spring. “I have my own way to manage time.”

Hong Jin, an instructor from Nanjing University of the Arts in China, has advice for Xu and others who want to use their time more effectively and be more efficient. 

“Managing one’s time is an important and critical factor for one to succeed,” Jin said. “In a sense, a person’s achievement is directly proportional to how well he manages his time.  

“In my opinion, college students need to manage their time properly when they study, which can make their life efficient and orderly. In addition to the study of professional courses every day, I will make full use of my spare time to enrich my own life.”

She advises students to “identify what is urgent and important to do in the morning, and review before you go to bed whether you have balanced the two. Prioritize your daily activities, and do so in this order.”

But sometimes people don’t stick to the plans they set for themselves.

“I know what I want to do every day, but sometimes I still can’t do everything the way I want to,” Xu said.

People often do the most urgent things first and then the most important things, but this tactic will result in some important things being neglected.

For this situation, Jin gave an explanation.

“Everyone has a lot of ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ things to do, and it is unrealistic to expect to be the best at everything,” she said. “So, we should separate ‘must do’ from ‘try to do.’ Accept the things you cannot change with a right attitude and a broad mind, and focus on the things you can change.”

 Also, it is necessary to pay attention to the biological clock, work and rest on time, and study in the best state.

“I’m used to choosing a nap after lunch, which makes my afternoon work more efficient,” Xu said.

Jin recommends the method of time management laid out in the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. This method includes making a to-do list; organizing it; reviewing it daily, weekly and monthly; and executing tasks on the list.

“I often advise my students that two important steps in managing your time are making a to-do list and a completed-items list,” Jin said.

“Make the to-do list; you will know when to do things so that you will be more orderly. Make a completed-items list; you will see what you did in a day, what needs to be done, what can be pushed back slightly, and so on.”

Weiliang Qu, director of the school of communication at Nanjing University of the Arts, Jiangsu, China, posted a schedule on a wall “so I could see what I needed to do in the near future without getting too messy,” Qu said. 

“At the same time, I used my mobile phone to set several alarm clocks to alert myself. This can keep my time organized.”

Another way to make good use of your time is to focus on improving your efficiency.

David Allen’s book says sometimes people get hungry faster when brainstorming. 

Mental work can also be physically demanding. So physical strength is the basis for how long the brain and body can work continuously and efficiently. 

Make time for fitness, and go to the gym. Exercise, and you will be more efficient when you work.

“After I finish my homework, I will choose to exercise outdoors or choose the movie I like to watch,” Xu said. “I think it’s a good way to relieve my fatigue after hard work.

“In the evening, I will spare one or two hours for reading. Reading every day not only relieves my pressure but also expands my knowledge. 

“Then, I will start to fall asleep as early as possible to save energy for my next day.”

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