Have you adjusted from the carefree, lazy days of summer to the reading and study packed days of fall semester yet? If you are still trying to function on the same routine that got you through the summer, it’s time to make some serious changes. You are spending a lot of time and money on your education, so you really need to be intentional about succeeding at it. There are all kinds of ideas to be found online, and I have included some links at the end of this post that might be helpful to you—however, don’t get caught up chasing squirrels (remember the movie “Up” where the dog loses his focus every time a squirrel runs by?). Limit your search to 30 minutes and then formulate your individual time management plan.
I found time management plans with anywhere from 3 to 12 rules for implementation. Simple is always better, but there are some extra tips that might be critical for one person and not for the next. There are definitely a few components that are a part of EVERY system: 1) Calendar; 2) Plan; and 3) Prioritize!
After that, it is just a matter of finding the system that works best for your challenges and your personality. Some people are natural born organizers; they can’t function without rigid parameters—they have to build in a little flexibility, even though it makes them uncomfortable. Others of us require a lot of flexibility in our lives; we’re ‘go with the flow’ kind of people—we are the ones that need to work at building in more structure in our lives to give us some boundaries (we tend to be squirrel chasers)! Determine (honestly) where you fall on this broad spectrum and then find a time management system that will work well for you.
Here are some great tips and strategies for managing your time rather than allowing your time to manage you. The system that seemed the most generally applicable and reasonable for anyone to use was found at the Big College Board “Big Future” page: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/inside-the-classroom/8-ways-to-take-control-of-your-time
1-Make a to-do list every day: Put the most important tasks at the top, even if they’re things you’re dreading, and tackle them first. Include things you want to do on your list too, so you have items you’re looking forward to. Try motivating yourself with a reward if you get to everything on your list.
2-Keep your work with you: That way, if you find yourself with extra time—while on the train or bus or waiting for an appointment—you can get something done.
3-Don’t be afraid to say no: It’s OK to say no if your friend asks you to go to a movie one night but you have a test the next morning. Instead, find a time that works for both of you and go see the movie then.
4-Find your productive time: Are you a morning person or a night person? You’ll be more efficient if you work when you’re at your best.
5-Create a dedicated study time: Set up a time devoted only to studying or homework. Shut off your phone and respond to calls or texts when your work is finished. Don’t check email or surf the Web (except when you need to for the work you’re doing) during this time either.
6-Budget your time: Figure out how much time you usually spend on your activities and then create a weekly schedule to follow. Determine how much free time you have before you add any commitments. And don’t forget to schedule time to relax.
7-Don’t get sidetracked: If you find yourself wasting time on unimportant things, stop, check your to-do list and get back to what’s at the top. Maybe you’re procrastinating because you’re not sure how to move forward on a school project. If that’s the problem, check with your teacher to clear things up so you can get moving.
8-Get a good night’s sleep: Your brain needs rest to perform at its peak. If it’s time to sleep, list the things you still need to get done on the next day’s to-do list and go to bed.
Hopefully you found at least one thing that would improve your effectiveness this semester! Please leave comments of what works for you that might benefit others. We hope to hear from you and get lots of great ideas for what is effective for you as a current student.
4 step program: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/08/28/balancing-act-tips-for-college-students-to-best-manage-their-time/
10 practical tips for college students: http://virginialynne.hubpages.com/hub/Time-Management-Strategies-for-College-Students
Avoid Time-wasting Habits: http://harveymackay.com/column/its-about-time-to-improve-your-time-wasting-habits/#!