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Starting Your Semester Right

Stressing out about starting a new academic year? Fret not, as our writer Chaarvi is here to share some tips to help you ace the new semester.

Credits: Keira Burton, Pexels Stock Photos.

The constant beep of your alarm chimes into your dreams and jars you awake. As the sunlight streams into your room, you realise that you fell asleep on your work table in a position which your neck will be sure to remember throughout the day.

That tempting desire that you gave into last night to binge watch Netflix and have late night conversations with your friends, is not only the reason for your desk dozing, but may also be looking like a foolish choice right now.

Although we have not invented a time machine yet, the good news is the semester has just started and you can make use of a system to avoid such no-breakfast, hair-in-a-mess, all-work days - the system of time management. What can you do to make sure you’re getting it right every time? Here’s how you can become the first mover in your modules.

1. When you're free as a bee

Credits: Gilmore Girls on GIPHY.

After a long day at school or work, it is natural for your mental resources to be completely depleted. Mental fatigue might encourage you to engage in activities that wring out whatever is left of your brain juice, like skimping on sleep to attend a party or becoming a couch potato. It is essential that you continue using the principle of time management not only to get work done, but also make use of your free time effectively.

Scheduling your “me-time” to include activities that help you rejuvenate and recharge will help boost your overall productivity. Exercise is one such essential item on the list. Dragging yourself to the gym after a tedious study session may seem next to impossible, but it can be achieved if you envision the rush of adrenaline after. Going for long-morning runs, being able to pursue that baking hobby, even if you can’t cook for the life of you, swimming in the swirls of cool water - you will be able to do all your favourite things, by just being aware of the way you spend your minutes. Even getting at least 7 hours of sleep a day - every student’s dream and deepest desire, you will now be able to manifest into reality, if you make time for it.

Self-care = Increased productivity. Credits: Sehsucht Berlin on GIPHY.

The first step in using your free time effectively is listing all the activities you have been longing to engage in. Next, schedule these activities over the entire week. If Monday is dedicated to an intense workout session, Tuesday can help you relax with you playing your favourite musical instrument. This way, you will not only be prioritising your recreation, but you will also be able to enjoy multiple activities in a week, thus enhancing the quality of your free time. Your best life is just one weekly schedule away, all you have to do is put pen to paper.

2. Cash in that time!

Cashing time in, just like money! Credits: Picture Press Play on GIPHY.

Since we were kids, we have been taught that money is an important resource, and wasting it can limit our purchasing power. As five year olds, we were almost always presented with a choice: either get the fluffy teddy bear or the cuddly rabbit. Time budget can also be simplified to a choice a little child unhappily makes when they are forced to choose between the two toys.

If you waste time, you will never be able to earn that lost time back and spend it on another useful or more pressing activity, much like the money that can never be spent on the other soft toy after a choice is made.

The time budget also has ripple effects and can impact your productivity in the future, depending on the way it is used. Let’s say you are extremely cognizant of the way that you spend your time. On a Monday, you finish your Decision Analysis class, practise all the problem sets, make time to go to the gym, and get 8 hours of sleep. Sleep and exercise will not only increase your productivity for Business Law on Tuesday, but may also decrease the amount of time you need to spend to complete your assignment on torts, because you are well-rested. Lo and behold, your time wallet is pumped up with a few extra hours, which you can reallocate to your free time!

Navigating the wheel of time, through time budgeting.

Credits: Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski on GIPHY.

The essence of this argument is that wherever time is saved (or can be potentially saved) it can be cashed in to do what you love. Now you’ll always have time, as long as every cent you own and every moment you spend is always an investment in you.

3. Distraction Subtraction

The biggest impediment to time management is not following your crafted schedule. You might plan like a pro, but if the execution is not right, the entire timetable crumbles. In order to follow the schedule you prepared to a tee, it is important to stay focused during the task.

Creating your very own work space, with your preferred music playlist and beverage (perhaps, a hot cup of lovely fragrant tea?) can help eliminate some of the distractions. Another tactic is to be aware of the little breaks that snowball into a huge amount of time wasted. One of the most obvious examples is the social media breaks we all love to take while studying; a 15 minute-long break of scrolling through TikTok can magically turn into an hour’s worth of compulsive swiping.

Social media breaks are usually one of the biggest distractions. Credits: Slothilda on GIPHY.

In order to be fully conscious of the number of breaks you are taking, you can employ the Pomodoro technique. After 25-30 minutes of focusing on work, switch to 5 minutes of a refreshing activity, it could be dancing to Taylor Swift's music, or making yourself a bowl of noodles. After four such rounds, give yourself a longer break of around 30 minutes. You will find that you are able to finish much more than when you take Instagram breaks, minus the guilt.

With that said, sometimes there may be unforeseen circumstances that may render you unable to complete all your planned tasks. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself some leeway for change.

Now, go forth and make the best out of the upcoming semester!

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