Time management: it’s not just for students

We often encourage our students to focus on good time management, but finding ways to keep our lives in balance is a challenge that doesn’t stop after our undergrad years, or even after classes end.  Even the Chronicle’s Profhacker look back at summer showed gratitude for all the gadgets and tricks that help make life easier and more enjoyable. Don’t we always get excited about discovering those little time savers?

Whether it’s coaching students to meet deadlines or scheduling our own lives, here are a few basic principles to creating good time management:

1. Know Your Habits. It’s impossible to accurately estimate time without a realistic sense of the time you need to complete a task.

  • To get to know your habits better, take a week and track them. Divide your entire day into half-hour time units and write down everything that you do during the day. This means that if you lecture until 2:00pm, but you spend an extra 15 minutes answering questions from students, your lecture actually ends at 2:15pm.
  • Are you an early riser? Are you most focused in the evenings, or before lunch? Know your most productive times of day.

2. Conquer lateness.  Whether it’s in a professional or social setting, being punctual is always important.

  • Lateness usually arises from an expectation that everything in your day will go according to ideal conditions. The key is to be honest with yourself. If your TTC trip to campus should take 25 minutes but actually takes 35 because of streetcar delays, assume it will always take 35.
  • Remember that it takes anywhere from 3-6 weeks for a regular activity to become a habit. Take this time and challenge yourself to not be on time, but be early for your meetings and appointments. This will set ahead your natural scheduling more effectively than only setting your watch forward.

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Spotlight on Students: Study Now, Succeed Later

With August underway, you might think your students are focusing on enjoying those last precious days of summer vacation, but not everyone is waiting until September to think about studying – the folks at the Academic Success Centre  are only just getting started.

Hosted in the Koffler Building at 214 College St. (just next to the Career Centre and down the hall from the Bookstore), the Academic Success Centre offers counselling and advice to U of T students on study skills, test-taking and time management. Learning skills counsellors meet with students one-on-one in appointments and in drop-in sessions, and lead free workshops on topics like notetaking, making presentations, and improving concentration.

Students looking ahead to the fall term can get a jump on their schedule by signing up for one of the ASC summer mini courses  from August 23-25, on Time Management, Reading and Notetaking, Memory and Concentration, and Succeeding at U of T. There’s even a session just for parents of first-year students, to ask all those anxious questions of their own.

Faculty and students alike might find some helpful advice on their links pages.   I can already see some good reminders for myself about making a time plan. Hmm, I wonder if it’s too early in the year to learn how to stop procrastinating?

The Books of August

As summer winds down and many of us are preparing for the busy fall ahead, we are looking for reading suggestions for these last weeks of August. (Of course, I am in the midst of The Clash of Kings so that should keep me busy until September.) Summer never seems to live up to the promise of endless reading time and beach vacations so we thought we could use a little help from someone who spends most of her days with books. We’ve asked Deanna McFadden, Associate Director, Digital Content for HarperCollins Canada, for her picks.
Summer reading has always been a kind of an enigma for me. For most, a tasty beach read will do — something light and frothy that’s meant to entertain and not necessarily be too taxing. But I tend to go in the opposite direction for summer reading. This year, I’ve got a stack of books about as high as my cottage to get through by the end of the summer, and I’ve been determined to do a lot of “off the shelf reading” — getting through those books that have been collecting dust for two, three, ten, years. So, here are five really terrific reads that I’d consider perfect for the waning days of the season:

The Award Winner
A Visit From the Good Squad
Jennifer Egan’s novel remains a rare thing in the book world – a novel completely and utterly deserving of all its accolades and praise. It won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction as well as the 2011 Pulitzer Prize (also for fiction, natch). It’s a multi-perspective novel that  circles around two or three main characters who are each either directly or indirectly (as in they are publicists etc.) involved in the music business. Let me just warn you — there’s an entire chapter that’s almost speculative in its nature, containing charts and graphs written by a pre-teen girl, and it was utterly charming. This in itself speaks to the power of Egan’s prose. It’s a marvellous novel.

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