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4 Steps to Improving Time Management Using Simple Math

Written by Alexander College in Student Life on April 28, 2020

As an educator, the most common observation I have among many students who struggle with trying to overcome procrastination is that their time budgeting and time management are done by the day,

e.g. (something is due tomorrow, this Friday, or next week), rather than by the hour, e.g. (today between 2-3 PM, I must start on my article reading and finish my note-taking of that article for this course).

This kind of miscalculation by using a less precise unit of time provides a mathematical explanation to why and how students, and perhaps people in general, procrastinate.

Thus, a 4-factor, 24/7, model of weekly time budgeting and time management was formed to show students how we can, and show should, first budget, then manage, our time:

1. Know how much time exists

There are only 24 hours * 7 days = 168 hours in a week.
This is the same for everyone on this planet across generations.

2. Calculate how much time we don’t have

Improving Time Management Using Simple Math

i.e. Subtract how much time we spend doing the things we must do, as well as things we want to do:

This is just an example. Some subtract more; some subtract less. But everyone subtracts, and most would see we have less free time in a week than we initially think.

3. Budget the subtracted time that we must use, as well as the remaining free time that we have left

i.e. Plan specific hours, in specific days, for specific tasks, with specific goals.

This is where a calendar and planner is useful for visually for planning every hour of our week.

In short, the more hours in a week we know what we are specifically doing, the less time we will waste in a week.

clock showing time in the city
student planning and scheduling


4. Manage the time you don’t have (necessities) and the time you do have (luxuries)

Commit to following through with each task in each hour.

This is where a to-do list type of checker can help us keep track of our time spent after we budget our time more wisely.

In short, to use the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and/or Bruce Lee, “Knowing is not enough; We must apply. Willing is not enough; We must do.”

To sum up, the saying/axiom “remember that time is money”, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, applies very well here. If it makes sense for us to budget our money and manage our spending by the dollar, then it should make as much, if not more, sense to budget and manage our time by the hour, rather than by the day.

Instructor at Alexander College Teaching Psychology and Educational PsychologyAuthor: 

Written by Angus Chan.

Angus received his BA in Psychology and MEd in Educational Psychology at SFU, where he researched on the development of self-regulated learning and academic writing in ESL and EAP students while teaching courses in Psychology and Educational Psychology. Angus also enjoys running, swimming, and spending time with his growing family.

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