Time management 101

Updated: Jan 12, 2019

It's the final weeks before the end of my first semester at OISE, and I can confidently say that I am pretty swamped with deadlines, lesson planning and just life in general. SO, I deconstructed my life into a pie chart! Because, why shouldn't I further dissect my already busy life?

This is what I typically do from Monday-Friday, not including weekends.


1. Sleeping - science demonstrates that everyone should be sleeping approximately 1/3 of the day. I must say, though I come close to that allotted amount, my body definitely does not FEEL like it has been receiving enough sleep. If I could add an extra hour to my days, it would hands down go towards sleep.

2. My Program - To figure out how many hours I spend in my program from Monday - Friday, simply add up: "Placement", "Class", "Commute", and "Homework/Assignments" (36.6% OR, 43.9 hours). Please keep in mind, this does not include the amount of time I spend on weekends to complete course work!

3. Overlap - Obviously, not all of these categories are finite. For example, I make sure to have "alone time" every day during my commutes. I also use my meal times to watch shows to maintain my sanity.


Now that we have fully dissected my life, what do we do? As everyone knows, the life of a grad student who juggles placements, classes, as well as a social life and work can get a little bit crazy. While I definitely do not think that I have perfected the act of "time management", below are my tips and tricks that I have learned over the years!


1. Use some form of a planner - If you already use one and live by one, great. Keep doing it. This post is for everyone out there that think they don't need one. Trust me, it makes your life easier. Rather, I'd argue that you haven't found the RIGHT planner that works for you. From Google Calendar on your phone, to the endless agendas on Amazon, there is a type of planner out there for everyone. I personally hate micro-managing my life, so I only use a month-long planner from MUJI (that I bought in the US for $1.50!) I've used this same calendar for over 4 years now, and I love it!

I choose to not overload my calendar with everything that I need to do. Rather, I only write down the most important things so that I can see a big, overall picture.

2. Determine your "non-negotiables" - Figure out what is important to you, and carve out time for it, no matter how busy you are. At a glance, the "social" aspect of my pie chart seems to be reasonable, and it even makes me seem that I have my life "put together". But in reality, it's because those hours of my week are "non-negotiable". Each week, I allot a certain amount of hours to go to church, and this is high on my priority list. By contrast, readers may notice how I only work about 5% of the week (6 hours), or I have 0 hours dedicated to working out. Due to time constraints, these were some of the decisions that I had to make.

4. Understand your lifestyle preferences to optimize your time - Rather than simply saying something along the lines of : "OKAY. I will get work done today. I promise to be focused. I WILL be productive", figure out your personal strengths and weaknesses. Are you a morning/evening person? Do you study best alone/in a group? Do you like to chip away at a task or complete it in one go? Do you work best in your room/library/cafe? Create your personal schedule and environment to be the most effective.

4. Remember your family - Whether or not you live at home, make sure to keep in touch with them. Don't simply contact them because you need a favour, but do share your life. Because even if you feel like the school year is sucking you into a time hole, this period of your life actually passes by real fast. Let your family in on what's going on in your life.

5. Intentionally set aside alone time - Your mental health is important. You need to recharge. No matter if you're an introvert or an extrovert, being alone for a certain portion of the day is healthy and needed. Choose an activity to do to wind down, whether that is going for walks, Netflix, picking up a hobby, etc. I have recently gone down the rabbit-hole of Instagram, and picked up the hobby of wax sealing envelopes. Why is this important in my life? I have absolutely no clue. But it's fun! And soothing!

FINAL THOUGHTS: The weird thing about time is that in the moment, the days seem long and dreary. But these weeks will be gone before I even know it, and like I always say, everything will be okay. Even those crunch times where I feel like my life and any sense of routine is flying out the window? It too shall pass.