Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 31 May 2023

How to best use your time now

Use this time to learn different things

Shivani Manchanda Published 22.04.20, 06:32 AM
If you are a problem solver, see if you can create some puzzles or brain teasers instead of just solving them. If you love to draw, create some basic comic strips reflecting the times.

If you are a problem solver, see if you can create some puzzles or brain teasers instead of just solving them. If you love to draw, create some basic comic strips reflecting the times. iStock

Use this time to learn different things

We have got an unexpected long break. How do I make great use of this unexpected bonus of time? Also, how do I ensure that the forced isolation does not impact my mental health?


Name withheld

At any given point in time, the world has some wonderful opportunities to offer. Now that you have the unexpected bonus of time, maybe you can learn the names of trees that surround you or recognise the bird songs that you now hear so much.

You could also learn a new musical instrument or choreograph a few dance steps. Reading and learning the meaning of words just for the joy of understanding new words is unbelievable, or awesome as you millenials will say.

If you are a problem solver, see if you can create some puzzles or brain teasers instead of just solving them. If you love to draw, create some basic comic strips reflecting the times.

We are surrounded by boredom because we see learning as a chore, thinking innovatively as something we will do when we have that awesome job. But creativity and innovation are muscles we can build right now. So look at the world afresh and see how you can create a magical time for yourself. Life has given us all these precious unstructured moments so use this opportunity to redefine your relationship with learning. Let it once again be about picking up something new or improving something old (behaviour, habit or skill).

Life is about building loving bonds with friends and family. So many conversations get interrupted by an inopportune phone call or a class. Take the time to have a long heart-to-heart chat with your parents, siblings or close friends about things that really matter. How many of you have bothered to learn why your parents made the choices they did or about the dreams they could not fulfil or how they managed failure in life? We all think we know the people in our lives but their answers may actually manage to surprise you.

Nurturing a relationship with yourself is another important aspect of life that we often do not have the mental space for. This is a great time to write a journal. Think about yourself as to how you are changing and what are the things that are important to you. Stop and listen to your own self and analyse the choices you have made or the person you are becoming. I will not insult your knowledge by repeating what everybody else might have correctly told you about regular exercise, yoga, meditation, helping with the daily chores and so on.

Do all of that and then some more.

As students of IIT Bombay, you are looked upon as role models and put on a pedestal. I, however, believe that being put on a pedestal is hard as it prevents you from being the person you really are with all those fascinating, though not really admirable, shades of grey.

I would encourage you to pursue your own interests, be productive with your time, solve problems not just for yourself but for the community. As I always say, be the best version of your self. The world around you is not looking for a cookie-cutter role model but a genuine person who is fulfilling his or her potential, one who is not self-centred and interested only in growth for oneself but someone who wants to use his or her skills for the benefit and betterment of the whole world.

In times of great crisis emerge great heroes and this is your time, my friend. Good luck!

Look for answers

In our school, teachers hate students who ask too many questions. They say that you don’t study hard enough, that’s why so many questions come to your mind. Besides, they get angry if we ask questions out of syllabus.

Name withheld

Asking questions is a useful habit which needs to be inculcated. But there are two types of questions — the first is content-driven, that is, questions which begin with the three Ws: what, when and where. The answers for these are typically found in a book and can be found by doing some extra reading. The second type of questions relate to comprehension — why things happen in certain circumstances and not in others. It is worth seeking the answers to these questions by talking to the teacher and seeking clarifications.

I suggest put together all the questions that arise in your mind during a lecture. Sometimes you will get the answer before the end of the lecture. You can ask the remaining questions after the lecture is over. That way you show consideration to the teacher and her process. Questions have meaning when they are asked after attempting to comprehend and making the effort to explore all available options. A student needs to develop the ability to research solutions on their own.

Just like you, teachers also have pressures on their time and even though they might want to entertain more questions, it becomes impracticable. Very large classes and increasing course load implies that their time is getting crunched. As students, you need to take responsibility for your own learning too.

See if you can create puzzles or brain teasers instead of just solving them

Shivani Manchanda has master’s degrees in career counselling and child development. She has been counselling about opportunities in India and abroad since 1991. Mail your queries to telegraphyou@ with Ask Shivani in the subject line

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