Learn how to prioritize and get things done with tips from Leigh-Ellen Thomas

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was that today

Having trouble managing your time?

Learn how to prioritize and get things done with tips from Leigh-Ellen Thomas

As UNB Saint John students settle into the fall term, there is a risk of not being totally “back in school” and wanting the summer to continue a little longer.

Leigh-Ellen Thomas, the student development coordinator at UNB Saint John, says that students need to come prepared and plan what they’re going to accomplish. For this reason, the Student Services department started a series of sessions on time management, studying and dealing with stress.

“This is a good time for them to think ‘What kind of grades do I want?’ or ‘How do I want to feel by the year’s end?’” says Thomas. “The sooner we start acknowledging time, the faster we can get through the term.”

Time is a limited resource for everyone. There are 168 hours in a seven-day week, but they are spread out among tasks such as attending class, studying, exercising, eating, relaxing and sleeping. “You do have time, but you don’t have enough time to do everything,” says Thomas. “We want to make sure we are doing the things that matter most to us, but we can only cram in so much in 168 hours.”

Thomas believes that students can balance their time with daily to-do lists of tasks that need to be accomplished. As coordinator, she performs academic coaching and helps students to develop study skills. “Everybody’s priorities are different, but you must ask yourself, ‘What is my main priority?’” she says.

The daily to-do list consists of filing tasks by order of importance. Thomas refers to this method as the “A-B-C approach” to time management. “A’s are the most important things that need to get done, B’s are important but not urgent, while C’s do not require immediate attention,” she says. “Students should be careful of the ‘C-Fever’ – of putting emphasis on non-important tasks like hobbies or leisure.”

Xinkun “Bill” Mao, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Sciences student, knows the feeling of not having organization or time management. He works at the Kingsway Life Care Center part-time and has seen what a lack of organization can do. “I spent three days waiting on a request with the liaison and it took three days to get back to me,” says Mao. “I can’t assign how much time I have, but I can learn how to increase efficiency.”

Using the A-B-C strategy, Thomas places fixed blocks of time over the course of a week. She urges students to manage their schoolwork, part-time jobs and leisure wisely. “Classes are definitely a must for students, while part-time jobs require them to show up,” she says. “I do not recommend skipping time for eating and sleeping; plan ahead when to eat or rest.”

Ji-Yeong, an Education student, came into the workshop with an open mind, but she was impressed with Thomas’ presentation. “At first, it sounded too generous, but then she explained strategies like the A-B-C’s of time management,” she said. “Overall, I am satisfied with what I learned.”

Thomas hopes students will be able to prioritize their assignments and commitments. Once they know their A-B-C lists, she believes that they can accomplish their tasks effectively. “If we don’t prioritize, we risk burning out and failing,” says Thomas, “Use the time you have, not the time you wish you had.”

Leigh-Ellen Thomas
Leigh-Ellen Thomas