By Anju Miura
Figuring out smart time management strategies is a crucial for insanely busy college students. However, it’s not as easy to follow the plan as we think.
I assume I’m not the only one who gets panicked in the middle of the night, feeling extreme pressure to submit tons of class assignments, maintain a good GPA, work as an intern and engage in school activities. Sometimes, it feels impossible to complete all of my work and meet all of my responsibilities.
For instance, last semester, even though I knew I wouldn’t get any sleep, I always waited to do homework right before the exam dates and project deadlines. In the beginning of the semester, those dates seem so far away until your professor’s friendly reminder of the work you need to hand in.
But wait, so why did I want to wait until the last minute to do my homework?
Two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Nathan Tversky, discovered the cognitive bias called “Planning fallacy” which explains a human tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task. For example, in 1994, researchers asked college students to predict the time they would take to write their thesis at the University of Waterloo in Canada. On average, the students estimated 34 days.
Nevertheless, mostly, it took over 55 days to submit their completed work. That is almost three weeks longer than the original estimate.
I positively expected that I would be able to magically finish a six-page-long research paper in one night, even though it actually took a week to do so. I always ended up either submitting low quality papers or making some excuse why I could not hand in the assignment. However, my constant failures to estimate the time to finish my work made me wonder why I did not learn from my lesson.
Despite my poor time management, overconfidence may come from my optimistic viewpoint. I attributed the delays to external factors and discounted personal performance issues. Known as self serving bias, in general, humans tend to perceive oneself favorably and to attribute success to internal factors.
Countless times, I blamed my professor’s having poor teaching skills when I received low scores on exams while ignoring the fact that I did not study enough. In contrast, I treated myself for scoring high on exams by getting a double scoop ice cream, believing that my academic performance must have been due to my brilliance and hard work.
Also, when I make plans, I often ignored the possibilities of unexpected events. But, life is full of surprises and distractions. We never know what’s gonna happen in the future, but we are prone to forget and ignore those potential setbacks when making plans.We may know it subconsciously, but still, we tend not to reflect our past experiences and failures and think positively about outcomes.