Some people think that managing their time is all they need to remove stress from their lives and get their work and their essays done. But, simply managing your time is not as easy as it sounds.
The notion that a generic time-management plan will help is no more valid than saying every business can be turned around using the same model. Everyone is different, and when you are under pressure it truly takes a tailored approach to maximize your potential, de-stress, and get your work done.
Students with poor time management skills are far more likely to be stressed or feel increased levels of anxiety. It is the same as a person with no navigation skills, feeling ill-at-ease or anxious in a new city. However, following some simple time management principles can positively impact you feel about studying.
Stress and Time Management
Is your deadline really causing your stress?
The idea of an approaching deadline for something such as an essay may be a big cause of stress for students, but there is a misconception that the deadline is the primary cause of stress. If you already had your essay written, would you be so stressed about the deadline? If you knew you could leave your essay until the night before the deadline and still score well, would you be so stressed about your deadline?
A deadline can be a good motivational tool if you use it correctly. It can even be a finishing post that relieves your stress because it gives you a date by which the hassle/worry of essay writing will be over. Do not assume your deadline is the enemy because it may cause you to find ways of changing or extending your deadline (e.g. faking illness), and that is never a positive step.
Procrastination is the real issue
Procrastination may actually be the biggest cause of your stress. Your approaching deadline is the reason you are stressed “about” your procrastination. Your approaching deadline wouldn’t mean anything if you had already completed your work, but your debilitating procrastination means you haven’t done your work/essay yet, and that is causing you stress (Pychyl, 2012).
A feeling of helplessness
A classic reason for stress or anxiety during education is a feeling of helplessness, and a big factor in that feeling is time (Dodes, 2003). Feelings of helplessness would evaporate like petrol on a hot sidewalk if time were not an issue.
If you knew you had from now until the end of time to complete your education, would you feel so helpless when given a difficult essay or an essay with a short deadline? Would you feel as helpless when seeing how far others had come, or seeing how much others beat you by? The answer is an emphatic “No.” The cause of your stress or anxiety may well be a feeling of helplessness in relation to your time, which is compounded by the actual issue at hand, such as your essay being too difficult or due soon.
Your state of mind
Despite the fact that most people agree that their state of mind affects their performance, very few people give it consideration when it comes to real-world application. (Joyner, 2006). People do not go into work on a Monday morning and prioritize their positive attitude, yet they consider their workload and time priority as if it were their own lifeblood.
It has been proven time and time again that your state of mind is both what causes and cures stress. When faced with time restraints, it is easy to fall into a very negative and pessimistic headspace. You can cause your own stress no matter what problem you face or time restraint you have (Hill & Slattery, 1986).
Making the most of your time
Budgeting time for a task is going to help, but it is not your solution. There are plenty of students who will tell you they have spent hours working and have achieved little more than they did during their lunch break the day before. Budgeting your time is good, but making the most of your time will take something extra.
Not having a deadline may be causing the problem
Procrastination has a great friend, and it is called the lack of a deadline. It is easy to put something off if there is no deadline. If you have friends coming to visit, then cleaning your place becomes a priority because it has a deadline. If you do not have a deadline, then you have no genuine incentive or urgency to clean your place. There may be the incentive of having a nice place to live, but it is something you can put off until tomorrow (Jaffe, 2013).
Essays and work from your educational institution will almost always come with deadlines, but their deadlines may not be suitable if you want to manage your time correctly. Proof for this resides in the fact that many students leave their work and studying (cramming) until the night before. That is not efficient time management, and it is certainly not a desirable result. Ironically, it is often a sign of poor time management unless it was your intention to leave your work until the night before.
Impose your own deadlines if you want to avoid having to cram/write the night before your deadline. Wouldn’t it be a better if you threw your all-nighter two weeks before the actual deadline? If you had your own self-imposed deadline and did your work in advance, even if you had to throw an all-nighter and the work was below par, you still have weeks in which to fix it. You could impose another deadline and throw an all-nighter again in a few days where you work to correct and improve your essay.
Not being in control is a common cause of stress
As a child, you were likely given lots of structure and guidance. Children of good parents get all the structure, routine, guidance, and help they need along with all the basic factors needed for a comfortable life. (Sutherland, Robertson, & John, 2008). So, why do children throw tantrums? Is it their selfish egocentric needs that cause their outbursts?
In one sense, it is their selfish egocentric needs and desires that cause their outbursts, but the real trigger is the feeling of no control over a situation. (Jarvis, 2002). A tantrum often follows the word “No.” An older child may try to regain control with a series of manipulative tools, with the most powerful one being the argument “But it is not fair.” If the child does not get his or her own way, a tantrum or a strop ensues. A lack of control is what causes the problem, and this trait lies within you to this day. You are getting stressed because you feel you have no control over the situation (Dodes, 2011).
Take control by making a budget showing how much time you have until your deadline and how much time you can spare every day. Now break your essay into sections and make estimates on how much time each section will take. Every essay can be broken down in some way. For example, this article may be broken down into:
- What causes stress and how it relates to time management?
- Making the most of your time
Work out how much time each section will take and enter it into a time-budget plan. Is it physically possible for you to do your essay within the specified time limit? If your answer is yes, your next priority is motivating yourself to put in the time you have budgeted. If you do not physically have the time, then it is time to approach your professor for more time.
You have to love what you are doing!
As you may have gathered, correct time management includes a positive state of mind, a little bit of discipline and a passion for what you are doing. All of these factors are present in people who actually love what they are doing (Hill, 2011).
If you have found your entire course a demonstration in drudgery, then consider the fact you do not love the course you are doing. More worrying, consider the fact that if you do not love studying the subject, then you may hate working in the field/industry.
There may be parts of your course that you hate and parts that you love. Embrace the parts that you love and allow yourself to enjoy the process. Do not write your essays because you have to. Write them because you want to and because if you had the chance you would do it anyway. If you had the chance you would research the subject and learn about it independently.
Happiness is an important issue and a love for your subject you are studying may be key to your happiness and future success. Dennis Prager is a great thinker in the USA, even if he is a little misguided on environmental issues, and he has given lectures and written books on happiness. You do not have to be happy all the time, and seeking only happiness can be destructive (Prager, 1998). If you can take that into account and yet work towards loving the subject you are studying and writing about, then you create a suitable and healthy pursuit of happiness that is positive and constructive.
Getting over the parts you hate may be a problem, but does it have to be? Sometimes we do not know we love something until we try it. The kids who are afraid of roller coasters are often the biggest fans of coasters once they have tried them. The kid that is afraid of the water is often the most passionate swimmer once he or she has tried it and overcome any fear. Alter your state of mind to one of a person that enjoys the subject and you may surprise yourself at how pleasurable you actually find it.
Create a positive state of mind
Though this has been mentioned, it needs to be reiterated specifically. You cannot succeed if you have a negative attitude or state of mind. You do not have to bounce into lessons and run to your dorm to do your essays. You don’t even have to be positive all the time; you simply have to be positive when approaching your work. (Burns, 2015).
Remove excuses from your vocabulary. Remove these words from your vocabulary:
- Don’t have time
- Too difficult
Remove excuses from your mind and your attitude and clear the path for a positive state of mind (Stephenson, 2009).
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