College students often hear people around them talking about ways to effectively manage time. What does that really mean to students?
Time management is really about making sure we get things accomplished on or before assigned due dates. Some students have effective internal reminders that keep them ahead of or on deadlines. Others of us need some external reminders. Bearing in mind that different tools and strategies work more effectively for some than others, here are a few methods for keeping track of what needs to be done and when:
A semester calendar
This is a week by week guide for students to write down important dates such as due dates for papers and projects, and dates of exams and quizzes. Thoroughly peruse your course syllabi to find these dates. Your planner may have calendar pages that show an entire semester or you may wish to print a paper version. Keep this in a place where you can see it and interact with it on a regular basis, such as above your desk. If seeing the whole semester at a glance feels overwhelming, you may prefer to work primarily with a weekly calendar, although at least having the big picture mapped out somewhere is probably a good idea anyway, just as a point of reference.
A weekly calendar
Use a week-at-a-glance sheet and write in pen everything that occurs for the duration of the semester, i.e. items that by and large do not change: class days and times, work schedules (if you have a flexible work schedule, you will want to pencil that in week by week as you find out what it will be), and set activities such as church, athletic practices, etc. Don't forget to include time for transportation and personal hygiene, as well as meals and sleep. Make 16 copies of the weekly schedule. (There are apps available for mobile devices that allow you to do these same processes.) On the weekend, sit down and add in items specific to the upcoming week. Be as specific as you can, breaking down larger projects into smaller parts that you will schedule into the blank places on your calendar. This type of system also allows you to see what time is available for extracurricular activities in a particular week.
A daily calendar or to-do list
Creating a daily to-do list allows you to prioritize tasks. Referring to your semester or weekly calendar, and your syllabi, plus any notes you have made from class about assignments that are due, you can put together a checklist of what you plan to accomplish on any given day.
Tips from people who utilize a daily to-do list include:
- Create the list the night before or at breakfast each day
- Cross off each item as it is completed and be encouraged by your progress!
- At the end of each day, include revised planning for any items that were not completed that day.
Planners - electronic or paper?
Which one is more effective? The answer depends on the person using the planner. Electronic planners are convenient and often times fun but if the person is not committed to using one or if doing so becomes a distraction, it is probably not the tool for you. For someone visual or kinesthetic learners, a more traditional paper planner may be the way to go. The act of writing things down aids memory, and it makes tasks and due dates more of a reality for some students. Again, which type of tool you use truly depends on the individual. The trick is to know what works best for YOU and stick with it.
Where else will effective time management be useful to me?
- Know the amount of time for the test. Know the number of questions on the test and which have the highest point value, then allot your testing time accordingly.
- If your classroom does not have a clock, check in advance to be sure you are allowed to have your cell phone if you will rely on that for a time piece--or plan to wear a watch to class on testing days.
- If students have the option to answer questions out of order, answer the questions where the most points are available first.
- Know personal priorities.
- Schedule time based on priorities.
Any instance where we face deadlines
The most important element related to time management is to plan your work based on your goals and priorities, then work your plan, allowing yourself to make adjustments as you discover what system works best for you. For additional help or ideas come and see us in SASS - PJPII 210.