Ask any student what their challenges were in college and one of the items on the list will be time management. Think about the following:
- You have a lot of free time and it’s up to you how you use that time.
- There is no one to nag you to get your work done.
- You have friends who want you to spend time with them.
- Every fourth week will be very demanding with major tests in most classes.
- If you don’t do your work, you won’t be reminded about what needs done. You’ll just lose points.
- You make your own decisions about when you get up and when you go to bed.
- Your classes are spaced apart, leaving you with chunks of free time.
- You may have a job in addition to school.
Nearly every freshman struggles with time management. Here are some strategies for managing your time:
- Create blocks of study time and breaks As your school year begins and your course schedule is set, develop and plan or schedule for blocks of study time in a week. Blocks can be around 50 minutes. Sometimes you become restless and tired after only 30 minutes. Some difficult material may require more frequent breaks. Shorten your study blocks if necessary, but don’t forget to return to the task you were working on. What you do during your break should give you an opportunity to have a snack, relax, or refresh and re-energize yourself. For example, place blocks of time when you are most productive (are you a morning person or a night owl?).
- Jot down one best time block you can study and answer the following questions to find a study space that is right for you.
- Determine what makes for a good study break location for you (consider availability, access, distractions, etc.)
- Determine a place free from distraction and remember to turn off your cell phone so you can maximize your concentration and be free from the distractions of friends or other activities.
- Have a back-up place where you can escape to, like the library or a study/learning center.
- Create a daily/weekly schedule on your phone
- Weekly schedules are always a good strategy to provide a list of things that need to be done. Every Sunday write down the assignments, tests, projects, etc. that need to be done and highlight the most important or urgent assignments so they will pop out at you when you check your schedule. Be sure to check this schedule a few times a day and to check off each assignment after completion. Also have the schedule hung up in a place in your dorm or bedroom that you will be able to constantly check the schedule. Make important and non-important item lists with the date in the schedule so you know what exactly is important and when they are due. This will improve you getting your assignments turned in on time so you can earn full credit.
- Think of school as a job. Between classes, do not go back to your room or hang out with friends. Instead, go to the library or a quiet place and get work done. Doing this will not only get you ahead, it will also give you more time for fun later in the day.
Having both an electronic and physical schedule may seem redundant but they can keep you on track.
- Prioritize your assignments. When studying, make it a habit of beginning with the most difficult subject or test. You’ll be fresh, and have more energy to take it on when you are at your best. For more difficult assignments or if you have a difficult test to study for, try to be flexible. For example, create time so you can get feedback on assignments before they are due. After you have completed an assignment, take it to your professor or a learning center and ask them to critique it for you so you can make corrections and make sure the assignment was done the way it should be.
- Postpone tasks or hobbies that can be put off until your school work is finished! This can be the most difficult challenge for your time management. As learners, we always meet unexpected opportunities that look appealing. Taking time for these can result in poor performance on a test, on a paper, or in preparation for a task. Distracting activities will be more enjoyable later without the pressure of a test, assignment, and so on hanging over your head. Think in terms of pride of accomplishment. It is always a stress reliever to do the activity and routines that you enjoy, but you will feel a whole lot better about yourself when you’ve completed your assignment then awarded yourself with an activity.
- Use your free time wisely. A good routine is to use flash cards. (See the Making Flash Cards topic)Flash cards are a very good study tool that can be used whenever and wherever you want. Write down every definition that is on a test and study these cards whenever you have a little chunk of time when you are doing nothing. Think of times when you can study your notes as when walking, riding the bus, etc. Perhaps you have music to listen to so you can soothe yourself while studying?
- Review notes and readings right before class. Reviewing your notes or flash cards before class ensures that the information is fresh in your mind, and you will feel confident about taking your test without any fear or anxiety.
- Review lecture notes immediately after class. The first 24 hours are critical. Forgetting is greatest within 24 hours without review! Most students will not remember most of what they learned in class so it is very important to review these notes again so they will be stuck in your mind. Also, another great time management skill is to finish your homework assignments directly after they are assigned because the material will be fresh in your mind to complete the assignment.
Time management doesn’t require a major change in your lifestyle. Actually good time management gives you freedom to enjoy the things you like..