Managing time effectively can be one of the most challenging parts of being a student, especially when you consider all of the responsibilities confronting adult students. However, how you manage your time is one of the only aspects of college that you have total control over. Effective time management is the single most important empowerment tool for the overburdened college student. When determining how to most effectively manage your time, the following considerations are imperative.
The first step in taking control of your time is to find a specific time management system that works for you. Every effective time management system must have consistent schedule, which will allow you to save time, keep appointments, and gain a visual representation of your commitments. Although initially setting up a schedule/system may be time consuming, the long term time savings will be worth it. Having a calendar allows you to visually conceptualize your week, understand where you have pockets of time, and when you’ll be pressed for time. Your time management system must be written. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.
The two most popular time management systems are either a digital time management system or a paper time management system, and it is essential to take into consideration your time management strengths and weaknesses while choosing your program. Many apps can be utilized to assist with time management which include: Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Remind 101.
Whether you chose a digital system or a paper system, the first thing that needs to be scheduled into your system is your class time. These blocks of time should include any commuting time that it will take you to get to and from your class. Then, schedule in work obligations and necessary activities of daily living such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Following those main blocks of time, you should schedule study time for yourself. For each hour in class time, you should be spending 2 hours studying/preparing. Conclude by adding your free time, social activities, and family obligations. Remember to include activities that you enjoy as rewards for keeping to your schedule.
When scheduling your study time, be honest about your concentration. If you know your concentration diminishes after an hour, do not schedule yourself for a four-hour, no-break study session. Based on your knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, build in reasonable breaks between and during study sessions. Engaging in physical movement during these scheduled breaks can increase concentration when you return to studying.
You must also plan for the short-term and the long-term. Focusing on one aspect at the expense of the other can lead to scheduling conflicts and forgotten obligations. Not only should your schedule include daily classes and study sessions, you also need to consider long-term projects and papers. Start by looking at your syllabus to determine what projects/papers are going to be time consuming and will be a large part of your overall grade for the course. Take the time to break those assignments down into reasonable steps and establish deadlines for each step. This will help decrease the last-minute rush to complete your projects. Having them completed early will also allow you to get feedback from you professor prior to turning it in for a grade. Also allow time in your schedule to make appropriate edits based on others’ feedback.
There are a few common pitfalls that you want to be sure to avoid, especially when you first implement a time management system. Don’t take too much time to plan out your study schedule for the week. If your system of time management is too time consuming, chances are you are using this method of “time management” as a means of procrastination. Stick to your system. This does not mean become totally inflexible. Make sure your system can handle those unforeseen circumstances that affect us all.
Ultimately, the goal in managing your time is to put yourself in control. Following these simple strategies can help you to manage all of the responsibilities that adult students face. If you are struggling with creating or maintaining a time management system, the student Disability Services or Student Accessibility Services staff can help you to define your priorities and create an effective time management system. Join us next we as we discuss strategies to help stave off procrastination.