by ACCA student blogger Yani Shi
I mentioned time management in my lost blog, and I am going to expand on this topic in this post as it is very important for both study and work. Time management is the art of arranging, organising and scheduling your time to generate more effective work and productivity. In order to study effectively and efficiently, I adopt a common, but effective, time management approach.
Making clear and detailed goals, both short term (1 week) and long term (1 term), is the first step to effective time management. Usually, I start to study the exam papers I will have 3-4 months before June/December exams. The goal for the first two months is to study all the topics in the syllabus. The goal for the third month is to review the notes made in the first period and read technical articles in Student Accountant. In the final month before the exams, I do all of the previous exam papers, read examiners’ articles, summarise important topics and most importantly relate what is examined to the syllabus and technical articles.
Secondly, I make a to-do list for achieving my goals. This makes me stay organised and take control of my tasks and study. I make detailed lists, such as time and task allocation for each chapter/each exam paper and each day and week.
Thirdly, I prioritise my time between ACCA study and my university courses. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to prioritise, especially when I am facing a flood of seemingly-urgent tasks. However, it’s essential to learn this to manage your time better.
I use the urgent/important matrix, (like the illustration on this page) to help me determine my priorities. On scale 1 – 5, assign importance and urgency to the tasks in your to do list. Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals, whether these are professional or personal.
Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals. For “critical activities”, I plan them ahead and leave some time in my schedule for unexpected events. For “important goals”, I make sure that I have plenty of time to do these things properly, so that they do not become urgent. For “interruptions”, which stops me achieving my goals, I try to reschedule or delegate them so I can focus on important activities. For “distractions”, I avoid them if possible or just ignore/cancel them.
Last but not the least, taking breaks between studying periods is crucial for achieving goals. It’s impossible for anyone to focus and produce really high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge. So, don’t dismiss breaks as “wasting time.” Wise breaks will enable you to think creatively and work effectively. There is an old saying in Chinese “If you grind down a chopper it will not cut firewood”.
If it’s hard for you to stop working, then schedule breaks for yourself, or set an alarm as a reminder. Go for a quick walk, grab a cup of coffee, or just sit and meditate at your desk. Try to take a five minute break every hour during the study.
This article is only a suggestion of how to time manage effectively. Everyone is different, so you could always work on finding the best way for you to manage your time.