In the first half of my degree, my focus was not entirely on my studies. Like many students I spent a lot of time socialising and drinking. So naturally, I failed to complete a few essays here and there. In atonement for this, I had to do extra work over the summer break, including some rather humorous makeup assignments. One was a 600 word essay on “The importance of time management skills for students in higher education”; which appears to be the higher education equivalent of writing lines (I found this hilarious).
Anyway I came across this essay recently on my computer, and had a read through. It’s actually quite interesting, even if I do say so myself! The theme is university study, of course, but it should be pretty universal in terms of procrastination-related stress. Have a look.
Students in higher education may have other activities and tasks to balance. In addition to academic responsibilities, there may also be paid or volunteer work, and other commitments to consider.
If these demands are not managed effectively, the result will be inadequate time to complete projects, missed deadlines and the quality of the work may also suffer as a result. Time management relates to techniques or methods of scheduling time, which result in the efficient organisation of outstanding tasks in order to meet deadlines.
Time management strategies can begin with breaking the outstanding projects into smaller tasks. Each task is then listed in order of priority, giving a list of smaller goals in place of a large task. These goals are then given deadlines for them to be achieved by. The result of this will be a plan covering the entire process of completing the project. When this plan is complete, the tasks should be completed sequentially and without skipping or leaving tasks partially completed.
If time is not managed properly, it can become too simple to put off tasks and projects in favour of other activities; procrastination becomes most likely when there is the least time management.
A study conducted in 2002 by Sirois and Pychyl found that students who procrastinate on the completion of academic work are prone to unhealthy diet, sleep and exercise patterns, digestive ailments, and higher susceptibility to cold and flu. Additionally, the study also reports that students who procrastinate are less likely to seek medical treatment for health problems (Glenn, 2002).
Britton and Tesser completed a study in 1991 in which they intended to discover whether students who actively applied time management techniques in their education would achieve higher grades than those students who did not. Their results not only showed a relationship between effective time management and higher grades, but also other benefits.
They found that students who applied time management techniques were more likely to say ‘no’ to unprofitable activities, feel they are in control of their time, and set goals for longer time periods than students who do not (Britton and Tesser, 1991)
Macan et al. Conducted a similar study, they created a questionnaire which had a list of time management techniques such as setting goals, to-do lists etc. This data was correlated with their grade point average, and a self-reported assessment of how well they believed their studies to be progressing. The results of the research indicated that the students who scored higher on the list of time management techniques, were more likely to have a higher perception of their performance as a student and also have a higher Grade Point Average.
The study also noted other benefits, participants perceiving themselves as having less ambiguity concerning their role, tension, were more satisfied with their lives and jobs where applicable (Macan et al. 1990). In cases where students do not apply any time management strategies, additional negative side effects can result. The quality of the work produced may suffer where less time is spent on it, and poor use of time is a major contributing factor to stress.
The capacity to manage time in an efficient way is a skill, which is not only applicable in an academic environment but also in future careers or situations after graduation. Time management is employed deliberately by managers in many fields, and learning this skill before employment is useful in complying with strategies in use in future workplaces and if in management careers themselves. As such time management skills give a legitimate advantage when seeking employment.
Unlike in studies, in these environments deadlines are often set daily and as such the environment is structured and suitable for time management methods. Students that can effectively manage time in a more unstructured environment will find time management much simpler in the workplace.
Britton and Tesser (1991) Effects of Time-Management Practices on College Grades. Journal of Educational Psychology. Vol. 83 (3) pp. 405-410
Glenn, D (2002) Procrastination in College Students Is a Marker for?Unhealthy Behaviors. Retrieved 12/01/06 from: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/writing/Resources/essays/procrastinate.html
Macan et al (1990) College Students’ Time Management: Correlations With Academic Performance and Stress. Journal of Educational Psychology. Vol. 82 (4) pp. 760-768
Image Credit: StuartPilbrow