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  • Grace Brown

Readers’ Rite 12/02: Time Management

By Grace Brown, Opinion Editor

As a college student, there were times when my procrastination nearly defeated me. In my senior year my friends and I created a stress-meter for finals week: if N is the number of things you have left to finish, and D is the number of days you have left to finish them, divide N by D to measure your stress. If the result is less than 100%, you're okay, but if the result is higher than 100%, you're in trouble. Well, I was in trouble because it was the end of fall finals and I had three papers left to finish (including one team-written paper) and one day left to finish them. (Thus a 300% stress score.) The co-written paper did get finished, but we had each printed our components on different colors of paper so it was obvious that we had not worked very closely together. Oops.

The second paper was finished, barely in time. Alas, the third paper (which was for an extra course in comparative mysticism I was taking pass-fail) was supposed to be 15 pages long, but with five minutes until the noon deadline, I only had 7 pages done. I printed it out and submitted it, never expecting that the very kind-hearted professor would grade it based on the content, not the length, giving me one of the higher grades of my college career. This procrastinator survived to procrastinate another day.

If you find yourself swamped like I was (with a 300% stress-o-meter score), just do your best to chip away at the things you have left to do. And maybe next semester you can learn from the time-management lesson that my organic chemistry professor shared every year. He would start by saying that there were 168 hours in a week and then would subtract time for various things: sleep (eight hours a night, of course), self-care (2-3 hours for eating, showering, etc.), classes (at least 15 hours a week) and homework (the old 2-3 hours per hour in class), and he would conclude that we each had 10 hours a week to choose how we would use — but we would have to choose between having a job, joining a club or having a significant other.

I sometimes use this illustration with my students at the beginning of the term. I am realistic enough to recognize that they may not do the estimated amount of homework and will probably not sleep as much as they should, but I want to remind them that they need to make choices and be aware that their choices have consequences. Having said that, I must admit that while I do remember some classes, assignments and grades, many of my more important college memories relate to the all-night conversations with friends who are still friends.

- Prof Lawrence

Easily the most overlooked skill is time management. My entire life I have been told to practice time management, and 90% of the time my response is a dramatic eye roll. I have never really struggled with planning my time appropriately, but that all changed my

freshman year of college. At the time, I was a nursing major, and my workload looked very

different then it does now. My professor's exact words were that he expected a “minimum of 28 hours a week” to be dedicated solely to studying, not including homework assignments, textbook readings, etc. Looking back I still cringe, but that’s beside the point. At that time I was fully confident I could handle the workload while also managing my social life and being on the soccer team, but that absolutely was not the case. Two weeks in I had my first exam – which I failed with a whopping 52% – and I had not taken nearly enough time to study. All of my time went to seeing my friends and completing homework assignments, which I usually did last minute. After that first test, I realized if I even wanted to stay in this program I needed to pull myself together, and the only way to do that was with time management. I had no idea how to split my time accordingly and it took me weeks to establish something that allowed me to get everything done. I was incredibly stubborn growing up—I still am to this day— but looking back this is a small skill set that goes a long way, and I wish I would have practiced it more than I did. This isn’t something that just goes away once you graduate: you’ll need to know how to manage your time for the rest of your life. Even if it is something small, practice and build this skill set now. Trust me, it’s a great tool to have in your toolbox.

- Brianna Nosal

When I declared an English major, I quickly realized I would be reading more books than ever before. Between four or five English classes a semester, that adds up to about three books every two weeks, if not more. That means a) I had to learn to read multiple books at once, and b) I had to figure out how to read as quickly as possible. Since reading is one of those activities that requires not only your eyes, but also your hands, it is not a great multitasking activity — you can’t read while cooking, you can’t read while running, and you certainly cannot read while driving. I considered audiobooks, but did not want to pay a prohibitive subscription fee monthly, given my already limited working time.

In what seemed at the time to be a coincidence, but what I feel now to be fate, I started dating someone who worked with the spouse of my old marching band director. We met up with them at some burger restaurant in Hamburg just to hang out and catch up. Naturally, the topic of books came up, and Mr. Post–Marching Band told me about an app called Libby that connects your phone to your library card so you can finally access all the digital books the library system has. I thought this was sheer genius — in part because I could now access audiobooks for free, and in part because I had always wondered how you were supposed to access the audiobooks at the library without a walkman or portable CD player (both of which were artifacts by the time I reached college). So I downloaded the app and my life changed forever. Save for the occasional waiting period on an exceptionally popular book (such as Jeanette McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” which, as of publication, has a 52-week hold wait), Mr. Band Man had introduced me to a world that permitted me unlimited access to almost any book.

A good friend of mine recently recommended another, similar app called Hoopla, which I also adore, for those interested in expediting their reading process.

Now I listen to audiobooks daily, and it has proven to be the single most revolutionary factor in my time management capabilities. I listen to books while I walk my dog, while I prepare meals for the day, while I drive out to my parents’ house or while folding laundry. I’ve even started listening to audiobooks in Spanish to get some language practice in, though I have to play them slowly, and it probably annoys my roommates to hear it played out loud around the house. Regardless, I love the way it allows the worlds I am reading about to converge with the world I am living in, and it is a wonderful way to keep up on schoolwork while entertaining yourself.

- Grace Brown

Rite (noun): a social custom, practice, or conventional act. - - - - - Reader’s Rite asks readers to address specific subjects weekly, providing stories based on personal knowledge and authority. Topics are intentionally broad to provide room for expression. Only true, honest experiences are published in Readers Rite. - - - - - Writing style isn’t as important as thoughtfulness and sincerity. There is no word limit, but you should familiarize yourself with the section before you submit. Feel free to submit your writing under “Name Withheld” if it allows you to be more honest. - - - - - Send submissions to You can submit on upcoming topics as soon as they are announced. We request one-time rights; all other rights revert to the author upon publication.

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