Fitting it all in – time management

Fitting it all in – time management

KAREN FOLEY: Welcome back
to the Student Hub Live. This session is all about time
management and fitting it in. Now, we know that many Open
University students are juggling many, many things,
often including work– full or part-time work– often with full or
part-time study, various responsibilities,
caring for other people in a variety of
different ways, and often with voluntary commitments, and
all sorts of other activities and eventualities that
can eat into study time. So how do you fit it all in? Well, joining me today
is Susanne Schwenzer, who is a Earth Sciences lecturer
and does a lot of research on Mars, which must take
a long time to get to. [LAUGHS] SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
Yes, actually, you would have a lot of time
to study getting there, because it would
take seven months. KAREN FOLEY: [LAUGHS] Yes. But you do fit an awful lot in. So I think you’re
the perfect person to tell everybody at home
how we can do it all. Now, we’ve got some things we’d
like you to vote on at home. I have a plan already to
fit study into the week. So do you or don’t
you have a plan? What’s your confidence level–
from not confident at all to very confident– that
you’ll succeed with your plan? And if you get behind,
what will you do? Will you start the
next week’s activities? Catch up on lost time? Or do whatever seems
to be most important? So, to vote on
those, all you do is open the widget that you’d like
to tell us your thoughts on. Click on the item that
applies, and you’ll be able to see what
everyone else says too. This is a great session to share
your study tips in the chat. So if you are just
joining us, you can type in there anything
you’d like to our team on the hot desk
who’ll be feeding in your comments, and
thoughts, and observations, and also answering any
questions that you have. [PHONE RINGING] Right. Sorry. I lost my train
of thought there. Right. So first thing is
first, Susanne. How do we fit– [PHONE RINGING] –study into the
week if you don’t have enough hours in the day? Sorry. I’m really sorry. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well, yeah. If you don’t have
enough hours in the day, the first thing you do is
you need to prioritise. You need to think,
what is actually really important to me? And that can be your study,
but it can also be your work– [MESSAGE INDICATOR SOUND] –or a caring commitment. So you really,
really have to think about what is important to you. And you have to prioritise. And you have to
prioritise honestly. Because it doesn’t make
any sense to say, oh I’m going to study– that’s more
important to me than my child’s birthday– or whatever
it is– if that is not what you feel at heart. You have to prioritise. You have to think
what is important, but you also have to
think what is urgent. Because what is
actually going on now? What do I have to do? Where is the deadline? Then you have to think,
what is important but maybe not so urgent? So you can fit this in– [PHONE RINGING] –maybe later in the week. And then you have to think– KAREN FOLEY: [SIGHS] SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
–what is important– not important and not urgent? KAREN FOLEY: I
need that app that turns off your phone
and your social media. Oh, that’s nothing important. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: [CHUCKLES] Well, we hope so. But you see how this
distracts us now. And that is something
that we need to think– what is important? And for studying, you
have a level more there, unfortunately, because it
might be important and urgent. So it might be really,
really important and urgent for the next TMA. But it might also be
important and not urgent, but it might be
important later on. So you have to
make this balance. When do I do it, and how
do I fit all of this in? KAREN FOLEY: So it’s
juggling so many balls. But sometimes when
you’re really stressed, it’s hard to get a sense of
where those priorities are. Because you might
think, well, it’s all important, because
they’ve told me to do it all. So therefore, I must get
it all done, I’ve got– we’re very
prescriptive, I guess, about how many hours of study
we expect students to do, how much they should be
getting through in a week. And also, you get this
list that you think, well, how am I supposed to know then? What is most urgent? How do students then make
some of those priorities? SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
Well, first of all, there is a study planner, which
will tell you all that you should ideally be doing. And you need to
think about this– [PHONE RINGING] –as a long-term plan as well. KAREN FOLEY: So I better
just get this, Susanne. This is really annoying. Hello? Yes. It’s not parked illegally. I– I’m not– I’m not to be– I’m on air at the
moment, and students– I don’t care if it’s
not in a proper space. It is parked, and it’s
not in danger of anybody. I am busy right now. So I’m going to have to
get back to you later. I can’t leave it now. I’m very sorry. I’ll get back to you later. Security– sorry. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: I hope they– I hope that this phone
gets switched off somehow. KAREN FOLEY: Hold on– SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
But I think that’s a– KAREN FOLEY: There we are. [LAUGHTER] SUSANNE SCHWENZER: There we are. I think that’s a good
example– action. KAREN FOLEY: Who needs an app? SUSANNE SCHWENZER: No! Physical– physically force. But I think that’s
a good example. I mean, is that really
that important now? KAREN FOLEY: Well,
I feel worried now. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Right. So what do they have– what would they have done
if they hadn’t got you? KAREN FOLEY: Well, I suppose
the car would still be there– illegally parked. [LAUGHTER] SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well,
what I think is important here is that our students
see how this distracts us now from what we actually
wanted to talk about. So switch that thing off. KAREN FOLEY: But they’ve told
me I need to move the car. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well, what’s
more important– our students out there or the car? KAREN FOLEY: Hmm. Pardon. Just doing my–
double show– sorry. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: So
what’s more important– the students or the car? KAREN FOLEY: The students. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: OK. So let’s crack on. Don’t we? KAREN FOLEY: Absolutely. All right. Gone. Gone. Right. So, we’ve got this time problem. OK. Sometimes it’s about
prioritising the time. Sometimes, though– and I’ve
seen this– some students– we had one earlier– who said they’re
studying 120 credits. And often, they can be combining
these things with other things. Sometimes there just
is not enough time. And no matter how
much juggling we do, you’re not going
to find that time. And sometimes it can be more
counterproductive to try and– she wants something into a
space that isn’t it there. What should students do if they
don’t have the time– if they don’t have the capacity
to do something that they’ve committed to? SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well, then
they should, first of all, speak to their tutor. That’s always the first thing. And they should make
an assessment– which one is the more important? Maybe they are studying one
course on level two, one on level three. So the level two would be
the more important one. Which one is the
most important one? Prioritise. And set your goals. And then maybe use the
ways we have to defer the one that you can’t fit in. Because what I also find is
when you manage your time, it’s important to make
time to get things right– to make it meaningful
what do you do, and not just do something
so you have done it. And so, especially
when you’re studying, you need to think
about your future. You’re studying something
on level two now, but you might need that
knowledge on level three. So if you brush over now, that
might be fine if you know– I’ve got the space in
four weeks time to go back and to recap this. But if you don’t,
and if you keep being this rabbit
in the headlight, you will never get there. So I think the most
important thing is to Prioritise, to
look what you can do, and to be realistic about it. KAREN FOLEY: No– absolutely. Barry and Angela– don’t
worry about the car. It’s all fine. It’s being taken care of. But I have prioritised. I feel a lot better
about this now. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Yes! KAREN FOLEY: OK. So, taking the idea
of these priorities, then, and bearing in mind,
as you say, you need to, perhaps, do the
most urgent things. But many of the OU
modules, as you say, are scaffolded so that something
will be more important later. What sorts of things tend
to be areas that students might come back on to? So I’m thinking maybe things
like skills, or perhaps core concepts– if you’re
doing a specific stem subject, for example. There are things that students
may be alerted to that will pay off in the long run. How might they know
what those are? SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
Well, first of all, if you look at your
study materials, it’s usually signposted,
because usually, in writing, it says, this will be
important for this topic later. And the moment you see
that sentence in there, you see that the
person writing is– it has thought not only about
the TMA they want to set, but has thought a lot
further down the line– to think about, what will
they need over and over again? Another question, always–
if you have to Prioritise and you’re unsure about,
is ask your tutor, because they will
certainly know. They are experts in the field. And they will tell you, well
it’s not in the TMA this year, but actually, you will need
this in the next level– or something. So your tutor is a
very good source. KAREN FOLEY: And then you put
it on the important but low priority list. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Yes. KAREN FOLEY: So students
will be carving things out depending on which week. Who’s got a birthday? Who’s got they’ve got
something on that week– and then maybe doing the
urgent things so that they’re keeping on track
of things and then reallocating for the non-urgent
tasks that are important. SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
And let’s be honest. The summer is also a
good time to go back, especially if you want to
progress to the next level. The summer is a good time to
go back and remind yourself about some of these core
concepts and use that time– not all the time, because we
need to Prioritise ourselves as well. You can’t burn the
candle on both ends. So you need to take your
time off over the summer, if you can at all. But you also can use
some of that time to do the things you didn’t
have time for before. But that, of course, also means
you need to keep track of that. And that’s why we have a lot
of stationary around here right now, because if you don’t
write this down and basically put this to another means of
memory than your own brain, you will forget it. So if you write a list
during your studies of things that you would like
to come back later, you don’t have to remember
them at this point. You know where they are. They’re in, say, a
book or somewhere. And then you can
come back to it. So using all these things
is a good thing as well. KAREN FOLEY: Because we’ve been
having debates about stationary and whether you need to go
in and buy 1/2 of Ryman’s– other shops that are available– or whether you just
need a pen and paper. But some of these
devices can be quite useful– like sticky notes. I’ve seen people putting things
on about things they might want to come back to, different
colours of sticky notes for different ideas they might
annotate their books with, and highlighters and
various things like that. How might you use stationery
to help carve out time? SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well,
it’s very, very personal. I use an electronic
means, because that can follow me around
everywhere for the things that need signposting. I wouldn’t be here hadn’t
my electronic medium told me yesterday I
have to be here today. So that’s one thing. And it’s also deputising
the remembering all of this to something else. But I also use a
lot of these things. So I write my own
personal lists. And if I show this to
you, there are colours. There are lots of words
that might mean nothing to someone else. KAREN FOLEY: Let’s
show people at home. Susanne, this that’s
frightfully organised. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well, because
the colours tell me what’s this week, what’s next
week, what’s important, what belongs to each– [INTERPOSING VOICES] KAREN FOLEY: Well, you
can have that back. I’m telling you that for now. [LAUGHTER] SUSANNE SCHWENZER: And
it’s my personal way that I developed over the years. And it’s not fancy stationary. It’s one ring-bound book. I have colleagues who do
all of this with Post-its around their screen. It would drive me,
personally, nuts. He says he would leave
the book everywhere, and his screen
doesn’t go anywhere. So that’s his means. Try it. I think in the session
before you talked a lot about trying things out. And that’s exactly what
I would second here. Try it out. Try a proper calendar where the
weeks are prescribed for you. Try something that’s
not as prescribed. KAREN FOLEY: I
once had one that I tried– which was
very good– one of these calendars of the week. And I carved out time. And I was like, three hours
on this, two hours on that. And then I’d see
how often my To Do list didn’t match when I
calculated the hours that I was planning to spend on
anything into the week. And then I had to
Prioritise and go, I can’t actually fit this in. So then what am I going to do? Kate, what does everyone at
home think about stationary? KATE: So lots of
people have been saying that they like the
planners to have and to plan out on big wall planners. Nicholas said she’s
got one colour-coded with different TMAs and ICMAs. Deborah’s planned in time
to catch up with things. So she’s actually put
solid time in case she doesn’t manage
to do everything that she’s planned in the week. Other people are recommending
things like Google Calendar and Outlook– so
online– and make sure that their partners are aware as
well of all their deadlines as well, so that they don’t
plan stuff in for them. KAREN FOLEY: I love that
Do Not Disturb sign idea. I’m going to make one of them. [LAUGHTER] I think that’s fantastic–
and so, so simple. It’s the simplest
things, isn’t it? WOMAN: Yes, it is. [INTERPOSING VOICES] I’ve got Tadiwa who’s saying
she finds time management the biggest challenge. So a lot of students
are giving her ideas. There’s something called
Palgrave Planner and Outlook Calendar, just to
Prioritise work and study at the same time, yeah. KAREN FOLEY: Brilliant–
some excellent ideas there. But sometimes– and I know this
happens to me– sometimes I’ll think, I’m really, really busy. I know what I’ll do. I’ll make a big list of things. And often when I do this, I
find it a really ineffective use of time, because all I do is
stress myself out and worry about how I’m going to do it. And often what I
think I’m doing, then, is perhaps
procrastinating from getting on with something really urgent,
because I’m trying to balance everything and do things. But I think we do have ways–
that there are times when planning things is a very,
very effective use of time and is essential, because
otherwise you don’t know what you’re going to do. But sometimes when
things are really urgent, you might just be better off
getting on with something and then perhaps
prioritising later. So sometimes we
can think, oh well, I can’t start that until
I’ve got a planner. I know I’ll go out
and buy a planner. Or I know I’ll go and buy
this or that, or the other. Procrastination is a massive
thing for OU students. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Yes. And the means of procrastination
are endless, because of course, you’re– KAREN FOLEY: Because
we’re very innovative. [LAUGHS] SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Right! And of course, your windows
need to be cleaned exactly at that time when
the TMA is few. But also, procrastination
is a problem when it has the means
of disturbing you. We had a disturbance
earlier in this session. KAREN FOLEY: I’ve sorted it. SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
You’ve sorted that. But also, we are still
thinking about this, which means you can’t
easily put things aside. When something comes in,
no matter what it is, you will think about it. Your brain doesn’t
switch off completely. And so having this
focused space– I like it to be after the
study space– a session– because this focus will make
you so much more efficient. And efficiency frees up time. And it doesn’t make any sense
to have two things at once, because you don’t do
any one of them right. Multitasking is good if
you have little things to do that can be– go parallel to each
other– alternating. But what you do when
you do multitasking is, in fact, you switch
between two tasks. That works if I make coffee,
and I water the flowers, and I do jobs that
my brain can take care of many at the same time. If I try to study a new
concept or write an essay, that wouldn’t work. So I will have to focus on this. And that means I am
quicker, which means I have more time in the day. KAREN FOLEY: Brilliant. Perfect. Let’s see what
everyone at home said. We asked, have you got a plan
to fit study into the week? Let’s see what you said. OK, good news– 81% of people watching
now think that they do have a plan for study. So Suzanne, you can go home now. SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
Yes, I can, actually! [LAUGHTER] That’s a really good thing,
because the moment you have a plan you also measure
yourself against that plan. You shouldn’t beat yourself
up if it doesn’t work, but you should analyse–
why did it not work? Was the plan too ambitious? Or did something totally
unexpected happen? If my roof leaks in one week,
and I have to take care of that because the entire
house is getting wet, then I don’t have
to beat myself up, because the plan
didn’t work out. It was just something
out of my control. But if my plans are
constantly too ambitious, maybe I have to change
something there. But if 50%, 60%, 70%
of your plans work out, then that’s great news. KAREN FOLEY: See, sometimes
my plan is study or do something all day Sunday, and
then I think that’s 12 hours– which it isn’t really. But sometimes my plan in
my head will be something, and then I get
very surprised when I’m not able to do 12
hours work on a Sunday. So it’s about confidence that
your plan will actually succeed and being able to have a
realistic plan that is actually going to work. So let’s see what
people at home said when we asked what
confidence they had that their plan would succeed. Right. More erring on the
side of confidence here, so that’s good; but some
people not confident at all, and some people in the
middle; so most people around the 60%, 70% mark. And it’s changing all the time. So how important is it, then, to
be confident in the first place that your plan will succeed,
especially if you’re saying we should try new things? SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Well,
you try new things, and you see whether they work. And you give yourself
some space for them. So you wouldn’t try new things
the week before the TMA. But you can try new things
when the course starts and you have a little more time
and a little more breathing room. Then you start, and
you try this out. And trying things
out will give you confidence, because you’ve made
a conscious decision of, this did work, this didn’t work. And then you can find
the things that work, and you build confidence. Confidence is nothing that
just falls out of the blue sky. Confidence is
something that we build and we build by trying things,
seeing they didn’t work. No person got to where they
are without having failures. I love to make sports analogies. If you look at people
who are playing any sports at world level,
guess how many times they lost? But they analysed why they lost. And that’s why they got so good. And we can do the same things. If the plan didn’t
work, analyse your plan. Change what didn’t work. And that will make you
grow in confidence. You see how the
change affected it, and maybe it worked
just a little better. So you change more
things until you have something that works for you. And as this works, and
this works goes up, your confidence goes up with it. KAREN FOLEY: Yeah,
because it’s not just about it having failed. It’s about, why didn’t it work? What can I do to
actually change it? And how can I get
the results I want as opposed to kicking
myself thinking, oh, well, I wasn’t able to do
that 12-hour study on a Sunday after all, because I had to
cook a roast or whatever. SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
But 12-hour study– is that a plan,
or is that a wish? KAREN FOLEY: Well,
this is true, actually, because often it’s a wish. [LAUGHTER] And it’s very unrealistic,
because I think, oh, yeah, I’ll have all day, and
that’ll be that. And I’ll have a bit of sleep. And so therefore, you’re right. It’s not well thought through. SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
And so be realistic. If you do time management,
the very first thing is being realistic. And then you can talk
to other students. Is this realistic that I
read chapter two in a Sunday? And maybe some are a
little bit ahead of you, and they say yes or no to it. And so talk to your
tutor if you are unsure. And that way, make sure
that over time your plans become more and more realistic. And that will also
grow your confidence, because they will work
out more and more. KAREN FOLEY: Yeah, no. It’s really important. We asked people what they
do if they get behind. And I must ask this as
well, because it’s– you’ve been very
convincing; 73% of them said that they will
do whichever appears to be more important–
so if they get behind. So the sense of
prioritising, I think, has really hit home
with people as well. So it’s all about
having this plan. But people always talk about
bullet journals in the chat. I really like bullet journals,
but I have never actually had the time, because they’re really
time consuming to sit down and colour in and do. I know you can by
some of them as well. But they’re quite a useful
way of, again, really focusing on what your purpose
is, what your priorities are, and also feeding
back and reflecting on what you might do. Some of them have weekly
planners, hourly planners, various sorts of ways
of carving up the time. Do you use things like that? SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
Well, I already showed mine a
little bit, and I– every Sunday evening–
unless I’m out partying, then it will be Monday morning– but if I am at home on a
Sunday evening, I sit down, and I think about by next week. And I don’t only think
about the work week. I think about
everything that week, because it also makes me
calm to know what’s ahead and that I can fit it all in. And– or if I can’t fit it all
in, and I still have Monday morning to talk to a colleague–
could you do this for me, because I really can’t fit
everything in in this week– so to be in control,
by thinking about it. And using a bulleted
list or using the books– we’ve got lots of stationery
here for individual projects– deputising to a piece
of paper, or in a file, or an online calendar– the things that you don’t
have to remember right now, but which will become
important in the future– and then focus on
what you’re doing. And this way, a bulleted
list will help you a lot to make those decisions,
because prioritising is a decision making process. KAREN FOLEY: So
really, time management is about feeling in control,
having realistic expectations, carving out appropriate sections
of time that have a purpose, and that you’re able to measure
and evaluate what you’ve done within that period of time. But also a really
important point you’ve made is being holistic, especially
when you’re combining study with many other areas. Study isn’t the be
all and end all. And to some extent,
it’s almost impossible to separate that
part of you out, because you’re
still a person who needs tea, who needs to clean
the windows, who needs to do all those other things in life. The studying is one part of it. But it’s important to bear
in mind the whole picture. SUSANNE SCHWENZER: And
you have to have fun too. If you break your
social contacts, you break your social network. So if you get a setback or
something happens to you, you’ve broken your
social network. You’ve broken your
support system. And we are– [SOUND OF GONG] –social. We really– KAREN FOLEY: Sorry, Susanne. We’re out of time. I’d ask for the
time management– [INTERPOSING VOICES] [LAUGHTER] –but actually, to
be completely fair, you have covered
everything on my list. So, well done! SUSANNE SCHWENZER: Thank you. KAREN FOLEY: Not
a surprise at all. [LAUGHTER] Lovely. Well, thank you, Susanne. SUSANNE SCHWENZER:
Thank you for having me. [INTERPOSING VOICES] KAREN FOLEY: –meaning to
do some more exploration with your Mars rover. We’ve got lots of other content
planned for you next week. And so we’re going to show
you some trailers about what’s in store for you. Next week we’ve got a
refreshers orientation event that’s going to tell you
all about things at the Open University and what
you need to know. And then on the 22nd
of October, we’re going to do a special Student
Hub Live writing workshop. So some people were saying
before that they haven’t studied for a
while, that they may feel a bit nervous about it. Well, we’ve got lots
of tips and advice from colleagues at the Open
University to share with you. So we’re going to show you those
trailers of what’s in store. And then in our
next session, we’re going to look at being
academic and this whole idea of what studying and writing
about academic concepts really looks like–
with Matt Staples. So I’ll see you in a few
minutes for that next session. [MUSIC PLAYING]

One thought on “Fitting it all in – time management

  1. I can’t tell if the car thing was for real or kind of set up as an example of a potential distraction in the video? 😉

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