On Effective Time Management


- Since exam period has already started, we thought these tips might come handy for you! Good luck! -


Mónika Galambosné Tiszberger, assistant professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Pécs has always been interested in statistics, she worked at the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, at Eurostat, then she came back to the University of Pécs to teach. She has three children, she had been the president of the Student Benefits and Dormitory Committee, she also participates in different project works, she is mentoring students. She holds free workshops about time management at the Faculty of Business and Economics. I asked her to give us some tips about time management that could be useful for students. The main focus: how to use our time more efficiently?



How do you spend your time?


The first step of time management, which everybody can do is the following: try to summarize at the end of every day for a week, what you have been doing that day. This way you can face the truth and find out, what how you spend your time.


There is an exercise that I usually have the students do near the end of the workshop, maybe you have already seen it on a video. There is a big glass bowl, there are big stones and some rice. The task is to place the stones in the bowl, then fill it up with rice. Then we change the sequence: first, we pour in the rice, then we have to see that not all of the big stones fit in the bowl any more. The bowl symbolises a certain amount of time, the big stones represent tasks that demand a lot of time, and the rice grains symbolize tasks that we can do in a short amount of time. They are not less important, sometimes there are important tasks, which we can complete quickly. We have to conclude, that if we do not plan the big stones into our days, weeks, months, then we will not have enough time to do them.




Filling it up


You can learn or prepare for in advance, how to use those random gaps in your schedule. You should not be spending them doing something important. If you have to wait for example, use the time to relax a bit. I always have something to read with me. Or you can plan your next week, or collect ideas for presents. Or this could be the half hour that you would spend on scrolling through social media platforms, listening to music, because these are activities that you can stop doing any time.




This might sound strange and a bit of a cliché, but if we consider, how much time we have spent searching for something, then we can realize, that order is quite important. We can also save some time, if there is some system, a place for everything around us.





You have to prioritize of course, which can be challenging. Our hearts would sometimes overwrite what we consider a priority. However, we have to see the deadlines for that given day, week, month clearly. If you have an online calendar, when you set reminders, where we should take into account how much time you need to complete a task, so as not to be reminded to submit an essay an hour before the deadline, when you still have not written it.


Many people say, that ‘I don’t do sports, because I have no time for that’. If something is important to you, you have to make time for it. If your hobby is important to you, you should be more organized in other areas of your lives, then you can find the time for your hobby. This is only a question of priority. You have to find out for yourselves. If you cannot find time for something, it might be not that important after all.



One has to prioritize, however, I am going to give you a counter-example. If you look out the window, and see that the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, then throw away everything and go running, take a walk, because you cannot do that after 6pm in winter, because it will be dark and cold outside. Reorganize your tasks. You should not stick to the plan too hard.


Time management is mostly self-discipline. The main goal of studying at the university is to find work after graduation, and to have a good job. If we draw the slices of the cake, how much of our time we spend in the workplace, we can see that work is a big piece of that cake. If we are lucky and have a job that we love to do, feel nice while doing it, then we can imagine that a huge part of our lives is in order. If this is your goal and you mean it, pay attention already at the university, what it is that you find interesting or fascinating even.


You do not have to pass every exam with flying colours. However, you still have to pass every exam, otherwise you cannot get a diploma. But it is recommended to read a little about every subject, at least as much as to be able to decide for yourselves, whether you are interested in it or not. Please do not say about anything that it is useless. It is enough to find one thing, this might even be part of a subject, that you like, or find interesting, then you can do research in that area, or join the Scientific Students’ Association at your faculty, immerse yourself in that topic, and you might even make a living through that area. This is especially characteristic at the Faculty of Business and Economics.



I liked statistics for example, I tutored many fellow-students, when I was a student myself, then after graduation, I worked for the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, later at Eurostat, then I came back to the University of Pécs to teach statistics. And I never had to say ‘Oh my, I have to go to work’, or when I have to come up with examples to use in the exams, I never felt that I would not like to do it.




I would like to stress the importance of rewarding ourselves. It is motivating in itself if we check what we have already done, tick, or cross those items on the list. You can also find a reward that motivates you, e.g.: if you are ready with a certain task, you can go and have some ice-cream, or you can go for a walk, or go jogging, watch a movie, or buy something – not every day, and not during the day of course, there are different levels.


(Photo: Portrait Maffia. You are cool in a mask too campaign of the Dancing University, University of Pécs.)


The other extreme


Meanwhile, pay attention and try not to overdo anything in any aspect. You do not have to spend your every minute usefully. If you are trying too hard, you might end up regretting to spend time, when you were not doing anything useful, but this is not the aim. I think there are opportunities for everybody. First, find out how you are spending your time. Because you might be able to save time without losing quality.


How to overcome procrastination?


You have to create a list, where you can check what you have already done. If something has no exact deadline, set one for yourself. I find that it is easier and less painful to do something quickly. The Pomodoro technique also says that you should do those things, that would not take a lot of time to complete, on the spot. In my experience, postponing takes a lot of extra effort. It lingers in the back of our minds, that we have to do something, and then it becomes a pressuring factor. If you would like to actively avoid this painful process, then restrain yourself, and do that given task the sooner the better, and you will feel relieved. The outcome will be much better, but this again is a question of self-discipline. It does not come easily.




+1: Let go


You have to realize, that you will not be able to do everything, therefore you sometimes have to say no, and you have to delegate. You have to see, that there are some tasks that others can also do well enough, and you have to ask for help and also be ready to accept it.


(Interview by Mariann Tóth, UnivPécs, 2018.)