Good time management is one of the biggest contributors to your sanity – and success – in college. It takes more than just saying you’ll stop goofing off and spend more time studying. It’s an art and we’ve got the inside scoop for you.
Use a calendar
Whether it’s your iPhone, a mega desk calendar, or Google Calendar, knowing what day it is and what you need to do that day is crucial.
Calendars serve a variety of purposes. In the standard day-planner method you can plan out every minute of your day (not really, but close). You can also use your calendar as a place to keep your to-do list. Just list those tasks on the day you want to do them and, voila, you’ve got a to-do list and you can see that massive project that you’ve only got 5 days left to finish.
Regardless of how you use a calendar, it’s a good idea to keep one handy and up-to-date.
Less is more
Having multiple calendars or cluttering sticky notes all over your desk makes time management more like time messiness. Who’s to say you won’t forget to look at the calendar that reminds you that your term paper is due tomorrow? Keeping it all in one place will prevent those frantic all-nighters and in-class panic. Oh, and by the way, “the dog ate it” stops working at age 5.
It’s a fact. Your roommate got dumped and needs to talk; you get invited to a networking event at the last minute; or maybe someone in your group project ditched and you have to pick up the slack. If you’ve scheduled away every minute of your day, you’ll be too busy to take care of anything unexpected. Instead, schedule an hour or two of “buffer time” every day. That way, when something unplanned happens (which it will), you’re prepared. And if something doesn’t come up and you’ve got time left over, you can spend it however you want.
And don’t forget to schedule relaxation/fun time. You need it and you’re going to take it whether you schedule it or not, so you might as well plan for it.
Despite what you might try to convince yourself, a 10-page paper is not going to take one night, so don’t plan to start it the night before it’s due. Make sure to schedule plenty of time to chip away at it before the due date.
Just say no
Unless you have a time machine, you don’t have time for everything. Make sure that you know what’s most important when creating your schedule or to-do list. You can use the size of an assignment, the due date, or even the weight on your grade to prioritize. After you’ve set your priorities, decide if you need to rearrange or give up something (preferably something other than homework). Learning to say no will let you check all the important to-dos off the list and keep you from spreading yourself too thin.
Don’t give up
Day Planners don’t work for everyone. If you can’t remember to update a computerized system when deadlines change, try a paper calendar. If your paper calendar keeps running away, try using your cell phone. If planning to the minute stresses you out, try scheduling blocks of “homework time” instead of scheduling time for specific projects. Whatever time management method you pick, you should make sure that it reduced your stress level and leaves you feeling in control.
Now it's up to you to find the method that works best for you. Go forth and get planning.