The secret to managing your time wisely is figuring out a system that works for you as quickly as possible.
Let three simple principles guide you:
1. Write it down.
There’s no reason why you need to expect your brain to remember everything you have to do and when you have to do it. Make a to-do list, enter it into your phone, use your Hornet day-planner, or utilize a time management app.
Whatever you decide to use to track your life/commitments, be sure to put all the information in the same place. Don’t separate your personal calendar from your academic calendar.
In fact, take all the relevant due dates from each class syllabus (papers, tests, etc.) and enter the information into a single location. You need to see the big picture and keep track of the little things simultaneously.
2. Work hard, play hard – just do the work first.
Let the things that you want to do, like hanging out with friends or watching a favorite television show, be the reward for doing the things that you have to do. This particular principle is much easier said than done. However, if you can get yourself into a cycle of rewarding yourself after you’ve fulfilled your responsibilities, then it gets easier and easier to do.
3. Do as much as you can before dinner.
Generally-speaking, you should treat your academic obligations as your full-time job, which means a 40-hour work week. Your “job” as a college student should include attending class, completing assignments, actively reading, revising notes, thinking critically about what you’re learning, practicing and preparing for quizzes/tests, meeting with classmates and instructors, and utilizing free tutoring or other resources.
If you can train yourself to be highly productive between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, then you should have very little studying left to do after dinner or on the weekend.
Don’t waste time going back to your room/house between classes. Find a space where you can study and concentrate.
Be honest with yourself about how much time it takes to eat lunch and whether or not you have time (even an extra 25 minutes) to be productive before your next class or commitment.
If you have questions about creating a time management system that works for you, feel free to contact Jessica Guggenheimer, director of learning resources, at firstname.lastname@example.org.