by Alex Chediak
Before we get into discussing the academic work of college, I want to draw a distinction between being busy and being productive. This may seem weird, but did you know it is possible to be both busy and lazy? What I’m about to share with you has literally transformed the way I view my own time management.
I used to think being busy and being productive were the same. As long as I’m doing “stuff,” I’m good. But I realized that some of my busyness was procrastination and laziness in disguise. I was doing a bunch of easy things, like responding to e-mail, rather than the one major task that needed to get done. As a result, I’d put off the big task until the only way I could get it done was to work until 2:00 a.m. the night before it was due. For weeks prior, I should have been chipping away at it, but I didn’t. Why? Because I was busy. That is, because I choose to fill my time doing things that were easier and less important. Yet that Big Task would just hang over my head, reminding me that It Was Not Done.
Now I start my days asking myself, What do I need to get done today? From this list of tasks, I prioritize not just the urgent (whatever’s due tomorrow) but also the important, because assignments due ten days from now won’t be overwhelming if I spend an hour a day on them. I start with the most important task whenever possible. By doing so, I actually have fewer things that eventually become urgent because I chip away at them long before they’re due.
There’s also a bunch of things I don’t do because they’re just not sufficiently important given my sense of the priorities God has placed on my life. By knowing my roles (person, Christian, husband, father, professor, writer), I’m able to ignore tasks that aren’t relevant. As a person, I need to sleep, eat, and exercise. As a Christian, I need to take care of my soul by praying, reading the Bible, and being active at church. As a husband, I need to spend time talking with my wife and making sure our relationship is strong. As a father, I need to spend time with my kids. As a professor, I need to prepare for class, teach, help students, grade, go to meetings, and a bunch of other stuff. As a writer, I need to read, think, click away at the keyboard, reflect, edit, and rewrite.
I encourage you to go through this exercise so that you’re scheduling your priorities rather than allowing a million unimportant but seemingly urgent things to keep you busy. Remember that college is a temporary season of preparation and growth so that you can serve God more effectively the rest of your adult life. God’s plan is that college be a launching pad into all that goes along with responsible Christian adulthood.
Taken from, “Common Mistake #2:” Treating College as if It Were High School of Thriving at College by Alex Chediak. Copyright © 2011 by Alex Chediak. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.