Start, Pause, Rewind: Reflections on My Time Management Journey
Arpit Tanul recalls how the Office of Learning Support came to his rescue and enabled him to find an approach to time management that was suited specifically to his needs
Throughout most of my time at Ashoka, hearing someone say ‘time management’ would almost always elicit a little scoff from me. There is some irony in this because there isn’t another term that better describes what I’ve been needing most in my academic and personal life. But after years of reading countless strategies and ‘tips and tricks’ from the internet—only to learn that they somehow never seemed to quite work for me—I suppose I can be forgiven for becoming slightly jaded with the prospect of ever being able to manage my time well.
What I didn’t realize then, however, was that most of the resources I’d encountered online and in self-help books, despite seeming to have a universal appeal, were almost exclusively addressed to neurotypical individuals. As a result, despite being well-intentioned in their approach, they were never going to be of much help to me.
This is where the Office of Learning Support, in a way, came to my rescue. Here, I was finally able to find an approach to time management that was suited specifically to my needs—an approach that was tailored around my idiosyncrasies, instead of actively trying to eradicate them. Time management no longer felt like an alien concept, applicable only to those people who already had their lives under control.
It was made tangible to me through small actions, such as scheduling all my daily activities through the course of a week, delineating short and long-term goals, and making realistic deadlines. All of these were things I was already familiar with, but working with the OLS helped me see that none of these strategies were binding—I found myself constantly making tiny additions and alterations to them so that they became more and more accommodating and relevant to my needs. I learned to be patient with myself and trust that time management was going to be a life-long process and one that I was never going to perfect. Instead of being dejected by this, however, I took comfort in the fact.
This is because managing time is not just a question of simply being on top of academic work at all times, and miraculously transforming into a highly efficient student. Many times it involves accepting our limitations and recognizing the things that require more from us than we are willing or able to provide at a particular point.
In acknowledging this, I received one of my most important learnings in this ongoing journey—to be kind to myself through all of it. An attitude of forgiveness towards slipping up (which will inevitably happen), rather than the age-old route of punishment, is key to making time management seem like an ideal that’s not just graspable by the gods but—to echo Oliver Burkeman—by us mortals too.
(Arpit Tanul is a first-year student pursuing Masters at Ashoka University.)