Skip to main content
Student Blog

The five W's of time management


Written by
Alvin O.

They say time is a paradigm, a construct in which one measures the length or duration of a moment whilst an object or event occupies a space. 

Several blue alarm clocks on blue background

I remember an old adage, “Time flies” or “Time flies, remember death”. I am not, however here to talk about death, or the end of all things—but the importance of time and its proper use in your academic development. Everything or every event depends on time, from sporting activities to business meetings; our birth to our first graduation ceremony or first kiss. Time gauges our successes and failures, also our life and its development in a society and the planet.

As a student of the University of London, I had to consider several implications of using my time effectively—using time to bring about a favourable result. Failure would be a sure thing if I did not complete my assessments or make space in my busy schedule to study and review the material. I also had to consider the length of time it would take to cover all the necessary chapters in the module that would bring about a comprehensive understanding of the topic. So time, when applied effectively brings about good results. However, as they say “Rome was not built in a day”, so it would be suffice to say that some of us still struggle with this construct of measuring time and how it affects our daily activities.

It would be fitting to suggest ways one can accomplish tasks or goals, especially of personal development. I have labelled it as the The 5 W’s of Time Management.

The idea of the 5 W’s is not new so I will not attempt to claim ownership of its origin. We have heard about 5 W’s before when composing a story or detailing an event. They are Who, Why, What, Where and When.

How does time fit into these 5 W’s? 

Let’s start by tackling these aspects of an event or task, using the context of a main character who is a university student and we will see how the construct of time affects them.

1.    Who?
We are the main characters! You must recognize at this point in time that on one half, you are responsible for your own development, no one else. The other half is Who you will affect positively after (a point in time, obviously) whether it is your family, friends or work peers.

2.    Why?
Setting aside a moment to pinpoint the reasons behind your academic journey and pushing those reading hours would bring about a realization or create that sense of purpose for yourself. In other words, the great why.

3.    What?
Identify your objectives or goals and what is needed to accomplish them. Formulate a detailed plan and engage in continuous, steady action through study. Those with time constraints need to consider how to bring about a successful outcome, perhaps graduation and starting your chosen career.

4.    Where?
The event or task has to be done in a place which occupies a moment in time, the Where. A student must find a quiet place to study and it must be done at the best time, without distractions, to achieve success. 

5.    When?
One must determine the most opportune moment to complete a task or goal, for doing the particular thing at the wrong moment in time, could hamper success. Reviewing material last minute or not making time to practise would place an obstacle to a student’s academic development.

Effectively applying the 5 W’s of Time Management has helped my study process exponentially. If you choose to use it, I hope it will do the same for you.

Alvin studies the LLB via distance learning in Saint Lucia.