So you have all of this free time, and still feel like you are finishing things under the gun? Follow these steps to get a handle on the wayward minutes so that you can increase your success in school.
Step 1: Priority setting
The trick to managing your time first comes with having a clear understanding about what your priorities are. Is your main goal in college to have fun? To get good grades? What kind of grades constitute “good” for you? To accomplish a specific major? To grow deeper in your faith? To go on an off campus program? To gain the skills necessary for your dream job? What is it that you want out of your college experience?
Once you have determined what your goals are, rank them. Somewhere towards the beginning of this list should be a focus on your academics. If academics are not appearing towards the top of your list, then you may need to adjust your expectations of what your college experience will be like.
Ideally, the higher an item appears on this list, the more time you spend each day toward that activity. So if growing stronger in your faith and mastering your academic commitments are at the top of your list, then you will spend a large amount of your time each day toward these two activities.
Step 2: Develop the “to do” list
In order to take control of your days, you need to develop some sort of educational strategy so that you can see the items you need to accomplish each day. Using a “to do” list or a checklist will allow you to see in one shot, what needs to be done for the day.
You should use your syllabi from each class to help you develop this list. Be sure to look ahead two weeks for each of your classes to see if there are any upcoming papers or exams. If so, then include at least 1 hour per day to study for the exams or work on parts of the paper. The goal with larger projects is to break them down into smaller pieces and slowly work on the finished larger project. Be sure to include any other housekeeping tasks that need to be accomplished (calling your parents, doing laundry, grocery shopping etc.).
Step 3: Map out your day
Do you have an organizer, or some way to organize your day so that you know what you need to do and when? If not, invest in an organizer or print a calendar from the web that has the days marked out in hours. Include in the organizer all of your class meeting times, work, chapel and any other regular time commitment you have for the entire week. Be sure to also include time to eat (ideally 3 meals a day) and the time that you plan on regularly going to bed and waking up.
Take a look at the upcoming week. How many hours do you have each day to get things done? Are you suddenly feeling like there is no time to do it all? Don’t worry, the most important thing with time management to remember is that we are going to increase your efficiency, so that there will be no more wasted time, no matter how many minutes you have to work on something.
To this list you are developing for each day, rank order the items by priority. Also, include next to them an estimation of how much time it will take to complete them.
Step 4: Become time aware
In addition to the failure to know what you need to do each day, most people also have an issue with being time aware. We get wrapped up with the things we are doing in the moment, and we fail to pay attention to the passing of time. This can happen when we are not aware of the amount of time we are spending on a task, be it the goal task (a particular assignment) or a distracting task (watching a movie, surfing the web, talking to friends,etc.).
To master the idea of the passing of time, try setting a timer when you begin working on a project. Based on the time estimations you set up in the previous step, choose one of the items on your list. Then set a timer, so that you work for 30 minutes on that task, then take a timed 10 minute break, then come back to the task for another 30 minutes. You can either repeat until the project is done, or switch to another project and come back to the initial one later in the day. If you really want to amp up your efficiency, when you take your 10 minute break, choose one of your shorter tasks to accomplish so that you double up on your list!
Step 5: Just get started!
Many of us procrastinate because we really don’t want to start a project, or because we don’t know how to start. It becomes so much easier to find something else we find more enjoyable, and forget the things that need to get done. So, using the idea of spending 30 minutes at a time on a project, choose the one project on your list that you don’t want to do, and start with that one first. One of two things will happen. Either you will start the project, and at least get 30 minutes into it, or you will start the project and find that once you get the ball rolling, you want to keep working on it until it is done.
We hope that you find the above tips helpful in your quest to conqueror your time management issues. If you would like additional tips and strategies, contact the Academic Advising office as x6135 and schedule a meeting with the director.