Effective time management in college can be difficult, but it is a key element to your success in college. The ability to balance academics, home life, and work requires diligence and strategic planning of daily activities while leaving room for the unexpected. Time management begins with identifying priorities and setting goals. The ability to visualize the big picture will allow you to chunk your goal into achievable tasks.
Time Management Strategies (TMS):
Look at the big picture. Taking control of your time requires you to look at the big picture. Utilizing your syllabi to create semester and weekly calendars will afford you the opportunity to set realistic goals and create a study plan that is manageable and efficient. As a college student, you will receive a syllabus for each course. Syllabi outline quiz dates, course meeting times, projects, and exam dates. Start with blocking out these times and dates on your semester calendar. Next, block off your work schedule, personal commitments, and extracurricular activities. Blocking out fixed appointments and tasks can prove to be helpful when allocating time to study.
Do not create a rigid schedule. Allow for the unexpected. Create a schedule that will allow you to make changes when necessary. Your schedule will change in college, especially around exam times. Preparing for the unexpected allows you to be proactive instead of reactive. Creating a flexible schedule can also reduce stress precipitated by the unexpected.
Create a task list. Creating a task list will allow you to better organize your day. Writing your list allows you to track your day to day activities, prioritize your day, and cross off tasks as they are completed. Task lists can be used in conjunction with weekly calendars to help you better plan your study sessions. Your task list should be accessible to you at all times. Do not rely on your memory to recall tasks.
Prioritize your schedule. To prioritize your tasks, identify what tasks you must complete for the week. This information can be transferred from your weekly calendar. You can prioritize your tasks in order of importance or group tasks into categories based on location. It is also important to assign time frames for each task. Prioritizing your day will help you remain organized and help you achieve your goals.
Manage external time gobblers. You may be thinking, “What are time gobblers?” Time gobblers are external factors that are vying for your time. Unexpected visits, emails, telephone calls, and the internet can be considered time gobblers if not properly managed. It is important that you learn how to manage these factors. Scheduling a time to respond to your emails will help you better utilize your time during the day. Set up a voicemail indicating the times that you will be available to respond to calls. Scheduling calls between classes or appointments will help limit the amount of time you spend on the phone.
Organizing your time around family obligations can also be quite challenging, but can be accomplished. Develop a master calendar that will allow everyone to list events, appointments, tests, messages, and other commitments. Place this calendar in a common area that can be viewed by all.
Schedule rewards. Reward systems can help you avoid the pitfall of procrastination. Treat yourself to something that appeals to you after you have accomplished your weekly or daily tasks. A reward can be as simple as taking advantage of free time after completing a task or a simple ice cream cone at the end of the week. The idea is to reward yourself for successfully accomplishing your goal. This can be a great motivator.
Stay strong and healthy. Proper time management also involves scheduling time that will allow you to focus on your needs. Schedule a night at the theatre, a 30- minute exercise session, or a simple walk in the park. Scheduling personal time can be reinvigorating both physically and mentally.