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Volume 68, Issue 132, Monday, April 14, 2003

Opinion
 

Time management is essential

Jonathan Bruder
Opinion Columnist

About this time last semester, I was sinking quickly, and I knew I wasnit the only one. Wanting to keep my chin up and hoping to help others in my position, I wrote a column with a few tips for staying above water after a stormy semester. 

Itis that time again, and the sun seems to be shining a little brighter for me, but not for everyone. If you happen to be one of those who feel flooded, there are a few steps you can take to keep from drowning. 

I am easily distracted. Recognizing my need to stay focused does not free me from difficulty. I find myself working on a project when I should be in class. To get past this problem, I have to set an alarm for everything. It might be ridiculous, and it sometimes annoys those around me, but it works ­ if I remember to set them. Since I donit always remember to set them, I sometimes miss class. 

Missing class makes me anxious. I fear the wrath of the instructor ­ to the point that I will keep missing class to avoid facing it. Clearly, this is not in my best interest. If I talk to the professor instead being fearful, I can keep from getting behind.

In the long run, a standing dialog with the professor is advantageous in any course. Yes, an instructor who knows your name is more likely to notice your absence, but odds are that you will profit more than you spend. Start early, at the first class meeting. Besides increased motivation to attend, you will find yourself with improved access to the information you need when trying to digest course material. Of course, knowing the instructor wonit solve all your problems. 

Time management is essential to academic success, and organization is essential to time management. Getting organized is easier than it seems, but you have to take the first step. Put aside a whole day to figure out how you use your stuff. Make a few simple categories and organize your space to have a place for each of them. 

Next, get something to write on. It needs to be small enough to take with you. When you donit have it on your person, always put it in the same place. If you keep a pen with you at all times you will always have a way to write down things you need to do. Scratching off items as they get done provides a strange sense of accomplishment.

For some, this work-as-you-go method may be enough to put things in order. But if you are not one of them, you may need to move on to a full-blown schedule. Schedule time to schedule, and schedule time for having fun. When you are having fun, donit think about working. When you are working, donit think about having fun. Both of these activities become ineffective if you focus on the other. If you need help scheduling, try talking to Counseling and Psychological Services. They will hold a time management workshop Thursday, April 29 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in room 226 of the Student Service Center. You can reach them by calling 713-743-5454 during business hours. 

However you choose to keep a schedule, make a habit of reading it every time you have a chance. You can make it easy on yourself by setting up some arbitrary time to do this ­ like every time you leave a room. If you stick to it, it will be a habit in no time, and the kind you donit want to kick. I use a second-hand palm pilot; it didnit cost much, it has great calendar software and I can set an alarm for everything. 

Finally, you may have to ask for help. Donit grovel. Just be honest about your situation. If nothing can be done to ease your semesteris end, maybe your honesty will earn you a "W" instead of an "F." In the best case, your instructor may be sympathetic, offering you the opportunity to bring up your grade.

As students, we sacrifice our emotional comfort and short-term pleasures for long term well-being. If we lose sight of this, it is easy to wonder why everyone else is having such a great time. Be warned ­ if you donit establish a regular sleep schedule, it will be 10 times as difficult.

But donit give up, no matter how long it takes. Sooner or later you will make it through.

 Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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