CAREER GUIDE Friday, October 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India

Mastering the art of time management
ow often do we wish there were 48 hours in a day! As a college student, you have just about five years at your disposal: three years at the Bachelor’s level and two years at the postgraduate level. How you manage this short span of time to allow for a variety of activities: balancing the multiple work pressures as you tackle the vast syllabus and class projects, prepare for college elections and activities, internal and competitive exams, will determine whether you sink or sail.





Mastering the art of time management

How often do we wish there were 48 hours in a day! As a college student, you have just about five years at your disposal: three years at the Bachelor’s level and two years at the postgraduate level. How you manage this short span of time to allow for a variety of activities: balancing the multiple work pressures as you tackle the vast syllabus and class projects, prepare for college elections and activities, internal and competitive exams, will determine whether you sink or sail.

Remember, it’s only the busy person who has time for everything. The secret lies in how you utilise it. When we say that we have no time, it simply means that we are unable to manage our time properly. The fact is, if we take care of the minutes, the hours will take care of themselves.

Time management is the best thing any college could teach a student.

In college as in life, you cannot read everything, you cannot do everything, you cannot learn everything. To assign the same priority to each task is to wind up with 40 tasks all tied for first call on your time!

Who would not like to participate in co-curricular activities without losing focus of curricular tasks? But then there are assignments, homework, tutorials, self-study — you have to manage all these as well.

So what is the actual time available to a student in one academic year?

Of the 8,760 hours in a year, you will spend roughly 900 in the classroom, 30 in taking exams and 90 on co-curricular activities. Knock off roughly 2,555 hours of sleep (7 hours per day), about 730 hours for food and another 1,095 hours for personal relaxation, grooming and sundry chores, and you are left with barely 3,360 hours for study and personal development.

Time management, therefore, means utilising the time at your disposal in the best possible way to strike the right harmonious balance between your physical, social, emotional, intellectual and recreational activities.

While there is no cut-and-dried formula for time management, it rests on three basic pillars: 1) Understand the value of time, 2) Budget time judiciously, 3) Focus on the task at hand.

Time is precious: Everyone extols the value of time, but only a few realise it. Time is unidirectional. Once lost, it is gone forever. It is, therefore, essential to value it as a limited and fleeting resource.

Budget your time: Even more than money, we need to budget our time judiciously. The art lies in laying down priorities for work, fixing minimum and maximum time slots for different activities and managing within the 24-hour day. Never close a week without planning a schedule for the next one. Prepare daily time schedules. But do factor in minor adjustments. Maintaining regularity pays dividends.

Also, you cannot possibly cut down on sleep, can you? Not for too long, in any case. A relaxed mind learns far better and quicker than one under tension. It is essential that you budget some time for relaxation and exercise in your schedule.

The early bird gets the worm! An early start saves a lot of time. If possible, begin and complete your assignments and projects well in time to avoid undue tension. Do not wait till the very last moment to get cracking. Make “defeat the deadline” your motto.

Table your intent: Start by preparing a timetable. To draw up a schedule that will work for you, factor in your preferred style of study i.e. your “prime time” (you will find that you function at your peak at a particular time, this is the best time to handle “tough” tasks). Similarly, make a note of your average attention span.

Only you know which learning method works best for you. Then, match your style with the course requirements. Each study period must cover one learning objective. Ideally, it should not exceed 90 minutes.

Although individual attention spans can vary somewhat, research on learning patterns shows that the speed and effectiveness of learning changes with time. After about 25 minutes, the attention curve begins to dip. Teachers are aware of this and attempt to restart the curve every 20 minutes or so by introducing a new activity like asking a question or cracking a joke to liven things up and change the pace.

Learning environment: Create an environment that is conducive to your learning. If you think you can sit or curl up anywhere and learn, you may be wrong. Some people think it is the most comfortable environment that promotes learning. It is not necessarily so. The best environment is one where you feel motivated and reasonably comfortable to study.

Jot it down!
How often we find ourselves mumbling, “If only I could remember…” The simple solution to this problem is to always carry a pencil and paper with you. The moment you get a unique idea or you hear something noteworthy, scribble it down, and file it where it is easily accessible. An absolute time-saver!

Watch out for potential time-wasters: Lack of self-discipline, idling, daydreaming, procrastinating (putting off or postponing unpleasant or difficult tasks), focusing on trivia, aimless channel surfing or browsing the Net are some of the most notorious timewasters to avoid. They surreptitiously whittle away at time without your even realising it.

Prioritise your interests. There are just that many hours in a day. It is better to concentrate on a few select interests and hone them to perfection instead of trying to dabble in a large number of activities that leave you exhausted and unsatisfied.

Seek help: Despite all the planning and determination, you may, at times, find that you are unable to stick to your schedule. At such times, you may seek help from someone close to you. Discuss your goals and enlist his/her help in helping you stick to your schedule. He should inquire about your progress from time to time, remind you of your commitment, and help you rewarding yourself on successful completion of your task.

Time management is a ‘skill’. And, an ‘art’ that we can develop through careful practice. And the sooner we start the better!

Finally, remember: You have exactly the same 24 hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, Louis Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein — It is how you use it that makes the difference.

Pervin Malhotra


Q Is it true that airlines charge a hefty fee for recruiting pilots? Does it have to be paid upfront?

Pankaj Arora, Chandigarh

A Sure, some airlines do. Particularly if they are recruiting trainee pilots for advanced aircrafts.

For instance, Indian Airlines estimated the total cost of training at roughly Rs 18.5 lakhs for jr. trainee pilots and Rs 14.5 lakh for sr. trainee pilots last year. This year, Air-India has pegged the cost at Rs 25,000. AI’s recent recruitment notice also requires applicants to bear the cost of Simulator Check/ Flight Proficiency Assessment Check (Rs 10,000) if short-listed after the written test and interview.

But don’t worry. This “hefty” amount will be recovered from you only after your placement as First Officer in 60 equal monthly instalments.

Moreover, selected candidates who have the requisite CPL , with endorsement on multi-engine aircrafts (current), medical certificate, etc. are required to execute a bond with the IA to complete the training satisfactorily and serve the airlines initially for a period of at least 10 years (5 years in AI) on being absorbed as Second Officer and subsequently as First Officer.

Of course you will be paid a stipend (Rs. 8,000/- p.m (IA) or Rs. 12,000/-(AI). during the training and will be confirmed in the pay scale of Rs. 6200-8025 (IA) and Rs. 7,150/- Rs. 8850/- (AI) plus generous perks.

Correspondence Course

Q I am a class XII student in the commerce stream. I don’t want to join a regular college. Instead I would like to work and do a correspondence course side-by-side. Please tell me what factors I should keep in mind while choosing a course.

Suresh Nair, Ludhiana

A Increasingly, students have begun to opt for your kind of decision. In order to zero in on the best course, you must go in for a recognised well-known university. Then check out its jurisdiction. Except the central universities and a few others, most universities stipulate their own domicile requirements. First try your local university. It will save you the bother of travelling to another city for taking your exams. Also check out whether the university offers contact programmes in your city from time to time, as these can be of great help.

As far as the course is concerned, opt for an ‘honours’ degree instead of a ‘pass’ course if available in the subject of your choice. You could also refer to the Caring’s Guide to Correspondence & Part-Time Courses, for a comprehensive listing and details of recognised correspondence courses offered by all universities and professional institutions in India.

Civil Services

Q This is my first attempt at the Civil Services exam. I’m quite sure I will be able to clear the prelims. My only worry is that I’m working and I don’t know when I should start preparing for the mains.

Kaur Jasjit Singh

A Ideally you should start preparing for the mains while preparing for the prelims. At least study the syllabus, browse through a few topics which are common to both exams and start making notes. In any case you must begin studying for the mains soon after you finish your prelims. At the max, give yourself a week’s break to recharge your batteries. But no excuses thereafter. Get down to the job in dead earnest.

You may well ask, “Why should I start preparing, when the prelims results have not been declared” or “What if I don’t make it and the whole exercise goes waste?” Convincing arguments and, in fact, most get cracking only in August once the prelims results are out. But don’t forget you will have already wasted a month and a half, in which time you could have easily prepared for one optional subject. Also, if you make it through the prelims, this time will have been well utilised. More so if your second optional is a new one.

Math Phobia

Q Like everyone else I am also in the race for CAT this year. Even after three months of revision, I have not been able to overcome my math phobia. What should I do?

Prakash Singh, Khanna

A Mathematical ability is a mechanical and logical process. It is mechanical because once you understand the method for solving a particular kind of problem, you will always get it right; unless you slip up in the calculation part, which is even more mechanical.

Maths phobia is a very real and a fairly common phenomenon. The only way to tackle this fear is to relearn maths from the ground up. Understanding various methods and practising their application will help cure you of this phobia. Once you’ve understood the fundas and practised the basics, maths will become mechanical; and will therefore, be both speedy and accurate. Remember: the exam does not attempt to test you on solving a third-degree differential equation. It does, however, expect you to know how to calculate distance and speed.

For the math-phobic, I extend my personal guarantee that you will overcome this bugbear - provided you begin at the beginning and pace yourself for the race.

If necessary, engage a good tutor to teach you the basics at your pace and on level of understanding - and give up feeling sheepish, shy or ashamed of asking for detailed and silly-sounding explanations of obvious problems. Keep at it till you understand the method. The level of mathematics is not very high (essentially of classes 10-12). If you had enough time, you would probably manage to crack most of the questions. However, time being the most constraining factor in this exam, not to mention the negative marking, you need to master speed. And that only comes with knowing the basics and constant practice. Taking regular mock tests really helps.


Q I am studying in class XII (PCM). I am interested in nuclear engineering. Could you please tell me something about it?

Abdul Sayeed, Amritsar

A Nuclear engineers research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. They design, develop, monitor, and operate nuclear plants used to generate power. Some specialise in the development of nuclear power sources for military or spacecraft; others develop industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials, such as equipment to diagnose and treat medical problems.

A small branch of engineering numerically, almost all nuclear engineers in India work in the government sector.

Good opportunities exist in this field because of the small number of nuclear engineering graduates passing out each year. You would be surprised to know that a large number of Indian nuclear scientists and engineers occupy key positions in elite US institutions such as NASA, Oakridge National Laboratory, NIH, etc.

Presently, nuclear engg & tech can be taken up only at IIT, Kanpur, at the MTech level.

Please send in your query preferably on a postcard along with your name, complete address and academic qualifications to:

Editor, Career Hotline,
The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at [email protected]




1. How many medals were won by China at the Busan Asiad?

2. Name the winner of the women’s 200m athletics event at the Busan Asiad.

3. Name the winner of the women’s 800m athletics event at the Busan Asiad.

4. Who won the women’s discus throw gold at the Busan Asiad?

5. Name the gold medallist in the men’s shot put event at the Busan Asiad.

6. Who won the men’s tennis doubles title at the Busan Asiad?

7. Name the winner of the men’s individual golf title at the Busan Asiad.

8. Which country has won the kabaddi gold at all Asiads since the event’s debut in the 1990 games?

9. Who won the women’s long jump gold at the Busan Asiad?

10. Which country won the gold in the men’s body building event, contested as a medal sport in the Busan Asiad for the first time?

11. Which country won the men’s hockey gold at the Busan Asiad?

12. Which country won the women’s 4x400m athletics event at the Busan Asiad?

13. After which Indian cricketer was a stand named recently at the Wankhade Stadium?

14. Who is the only Indian batsman to have scored four centuries in successive Test innings?

15. Who has been chosen for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize?

Name....................Class............ School address.........................

Winners of quiz 167. The first prize by draw of lots goes to Navjot Sidhu, IX, St Joseph’s High School, Mandi Dabwali-125104, dist Sirsa(Haryana).

Second: Gaganpreet S Taneja, X-P, Yadavindara Public School, Stadium Road, Patiala-147001.

Third: Vishal, 6th-B, BBMB DAV Public School, Nangal township, dist Ropar.

Answers to quiz 167: East Timor; 1604; Oxana Fedorova; Pramukh Swami; Dharamsala; Family Matters; 1942; Pakistan; Dehra Dun; Abidjan/ Yamoussoukro; India ; Duria; Sepak Takraw; India & Pakistan; Yasin Merchant&Rafat Habib.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

Tarun Sharma