Being an MA student at the University of Sheffield for almost 6 months, I can say that my first semester did not go very well in terms of time management. I had successfully wasted my time.
Apart from studying, I did not participate in any other activities, which meant that I must have had more time to study. In fact, I still thought that there wasn’t enough time. Long, enormous reading lists intimidated me, especially when the terminology was unfamiliar. Because I had no time to go through the lists in detail, I ended up reading mostly the first and last pages of the articles or chapters, which were not good for my knowledge and academic performance. The most difficult part was the assessments, in the form of essays worth 100% of the marks for that module. I had to write a total of 3 essays, 3000 words each, due in a month on the same date. I spent Christmas break on the essays and, for the first time in my life, I was stuck in my room on Christmas Eve doing my essays instead of experiencing the jolly season with family and friends. I almost didn’t have enough sleep for a week until the deadlines!
All of it was not at all enjoyable. After long thoughts, I realised that the problem was neither lack of time nor too many assignments; it was how I managed myself. During the first semester, I tended to procrastinate. The fact that I had “the whole day” to do my readings and assignments made me underestimate them. Instead of reading articles, I watched movies and kept checking my social media accounts. I waited until all of my tasks piled up and felt really bad about it afterwards.
If this pattern keeps happening throughout my study, there is no point of flying far from my country to pursue education here. So, in this new semester I decided not to make the same mistake again. I have started making priority lists and set goals each day. More importantly, I try my best to stick to them. Since social media and movies are the worst distractions to me, I won’t usually check my Facebook/Instagram or watch movies until I reach the goals of the day.
As an international student, I wish to learn as much as I can during my study in Sheffield and, for me, learning academically is not enough. So, I finally let myself join other activities (e.g. volunteering) to help gain skills, connections and more experience while studying. Having extra-activities other than attending classes somehow helps me manage my time better. I used to think that the more free time I have, the more I allocate the time for studying (which turned out to be wrong). But now, because I have less free time, I appreciate it more and use it effectively.
The changes are difficult to make. But believe it or not, things start to get better after I do so.
Maria Caroline Samodra, MA Applied Linguistics with TESOL