How Students Can Improve Their Self-Discipline and Time Management Skills
Time management, although its term may be a misnomer, is about managing your time with a focus on achievement: of doing and completing those things which you want to do and which need doing.(Adair, J., Thomas, N.2004, p.4).
A good time management strategy can be accompanied by a range of techniques in managing time when accomplishing a certain task or goals within a due date.
There are many types of students around the world ranging from preschooler to full time studies to working adults, including myself, studying part time courses. Students tend to procrastinate and get distracted from focusing their work. Therefore, it is important for students to manage their time well and train their self-discipline since young to stay focus in their studies. In this essay, we will be focusing and applying suggestions outlined by Adair, John (1987) and Masterton, Alisa (1997) to discuss more on how students can improve their self-discipline and time management skills. John Adair – Time Management
Other than being organized or efficient, John Adair believes that time management should be goal-driven and results-oriented. There are ten principles of time management as outlined by John Adair as follows; Develop a sense of personal time
It is important for us as a student to understand and analyses how to spend and improve the time available to us as the first step to change. Students can keep a record of their time spent such as daily time log and then review it after a few days. By doing this, it will help the students to understand how they have responded to various tasks at different times of the day and may adjust or improve accordingly to their needs. In fact, students will get a much better feeling such as the feeling of satisfaction for the way they spend their time.
As mentioned in Adair, J., Thomas, N. (2004, p.9), students are to ensure the followings in order for them to improve the use of time:
- Your time is spent according to a clear idea of your priorities and main responsibilities.
- You isolate the unimportant and ruthlessly prune out unnecessary or unproductive activities.
- You combine any ‘free’ time (i.e. free from meetings or other people’s demands) to create meaningful and usable time of your own.
- Tasks are simplified where others would not be adversely affected.
- You are not doing tasks which could be performed by others.
An example of time log:
Source: Adair, J., Thomas, N. (2004, p.8)
Identifying long-term goals
It may be worth for students to ponder and identifying their long-term goals as it provides them with a sense of purpose and direction to achieve. Any potential conflicts can also be recognized during this process. For instance: •What do we want to be in 3 or 5 years’ time?
- What strengths and weaknesses do we have?
- How can we improve?
Walt Goodridge provides 5-steps approach which can be put into use for students to set up their goals:
Step 1: Find your ‘Why’
It is crucial to understand the reason when doing certain things.
Step 2: Write your goals down
This motivates students to work for their goals.
Step 3: Quantify your goals
Students should avoid doubts or creating fuzzy goals. They should be
specific when setting out goals.
Step 4: Break them down
It will be much easier and manageable for students, especially those who love to procrastinate, to accomplish their goals by breaking down them into smaller parts.
Step 5: Develop a strategy
Students should prioritize their task by working out a plan to accomplish their desire goals.
Make middle-term plans
Middle-term plans can be seen as operational plan which may help students to achieve their long term-goals by setting out: who? What? When? Where? How? And Why? Adair, J. has set out an acronym to set targets which are known as S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – the target must be clear and unambiguous
Measurable – a concrete criteria is needed for measuring the progress in achieving the target Attainable – it emphasizes the importance of targets
that are realistic and attainable Relevant – the target must be in alignment with other targets whether it is worthwhile or right time etc. Time bound – the target to be set within a time frame, for instance, a target date, to help students to focus their efforts in completing their task before the due date. Planning the day
Adair, J (2004) also emphasizes that the golden rule is to shape the plan an outline for each day by listing the various components. This can help students to categorize and prioritize in relation to the urgency and importance task accordingly. Students need to understand and distinguish ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ term accordingly. Important activities have a result which leads to the achievement of students goals while urgent activities require immediate attention which often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals. Student may use below Time Management Matrix which is a useful tool to set their priorities.
Time Management Matrix
Source: Adair, J., Thomas, N. (2004, p.14)
Students may face difficulties in juggling with so many responsibilities. Therefore, students should also include in their systems for identifying what must be done today, should be done today and what might be done today (Adair, J., Thomas, N. 2004, p.15) Make best use of your time
There are certain times where students are more productive than other times. Therefore, it is a must to know which of the quality times students are mentally alert and consistent in performing their task. Breaks in between will also help students to work in concentrated burst. However, students should not take this opportunity to procrastinate in between. Organize office work
Students will need a convenient place to study that is free from distractions in order to be able to focus better. It is also prudent for students to avoid on spending so much time reading which can be easily forgotten.
Therefore, it is encouraged for students to follow the following steps:
Step 1: Shape your environment
As mentioned earlier, it is important to have a convenient environment to study. There are many things which can distract students from doing their work diligently. Therefore, students have to find ways to overcome these challenges and manage their self-discipline.
Step 2: Establishing a daily routine
It would be much easier once the students have created a routine to manage their plans. This may thus help to avoid procrastination and improve self-discipline. Manage meetings effectively
It is encouraged for students to prepare well in advance before attending to any workshops or classes to enable them to have a clearer idea on the concepts that are relevant to that particular workshop and thus being able to contribute to the discussion. Delegate effectively
In students’ context, it may be a principle which is indirectly in relation to getting others to take some of their workload to enable them to have more time to study. For instance, a working student may request the boss to delegate some of the work responsibilities to someone else so that he/she can leave work at reasonable time to study at home. This may increase the opportunity for students to have more free time to study. Make use of committed time
Students can make use of their available time more effectively to increase their achievement level. This can be done by doing productive activities to schedule alongside which have to be committed to other activities in their daily routines or during waiting time and travel time. For instance, student may use the opportunity of the long lunch break by reading through some of the lectures or articles. Manage your health
It is vital for students to look after their energy and stamina levels as time management is about ensuring that they maximize their available time wisely. This is to ensure that students do not suffer any time deprivation through illness of mind or body. In other words, it is important for students to have a well-balanced life.
Bad management in both time and stress can push either of them out of control. Students are therefore encouraged to keep themselves healthy and stress-free during their break times by doing certain activities which will helps to clear their mind.
Alisa Masterton – Time Management
Other than Adair’s (1987) list of ten principles for better time management, Alisa Masterton (1997) also outlines a similar list which may assist students as follows: Planning
Planning helps student to have an overview of the needs to be done with given due date in order for them to accomplish or achieve certain task.
Students tend to start prioritizing on tasks that appear urgent however are actually which are not the most important ones. Therefore, it is prudent for them to do things that are of equally important. No time wasting
Students should avoid doing things that are not important to prevent themselves from wasting any unnecessary time.
Learning to say no Students must avoid from doing task or taking on tasks which does not fit them in. For instance, when they became too pre-occupied and stressed with their own workload, they may not be able to do things effectively.
It is important to be organized to avoid missing datelines, losing important things which may lead to waste of time in searching for missing items.
The diary as a tool
Having a diary may help students to keep track of what needs to be done with the given due date in relation to the plan and priorities which has been set out.
From time to time, students may face problems in doing their task efficiently and effectively. The main challenges are procrastination and distraction or even having trapped of perfectionism which may hinder the chances to success and thus results in failure. Students who practice good time management skills is often that they are more productive, having more energy to achieve their task or goals, feeling less stress, having the ability in getting more things done. Both Adair’s (1987) and Masterton’s (1997) time management techniques are helpful for students to manage their time well. Students can balance their time management strategy that works best to be more effectively, productive and thus improve their self-discipline.