Time management is a skill that every successful person has mastered. It is often the biggest hurdle students have to leap in order to take their academic success to the "next level". It is imperative that you control your time and not the other way around!
When in high school, most students depend on someone else to help them manage their time. Perhaps it was a parent who got you out of the bed in the morning, teachers to remind you of tests and upcoming assignments, coaches to hold you to practice and game schedules, or counselors who got after you to complete applications. None of these supports are with you when you go away to college -- you have a roommate but it's not your roommate's job to get you where you need to go or to hound you to study! This is a big area of struggle and often carries over into multiple semesters, bringing anxiety and missed appointments with it.
There are four basic elements of time management:
- Goals & Action Plans that help guide your priorities
- A semester planner that gives you an overview of the academic term
- A weekly planner that will show you how your week will be spent
- A daily planner that lists tasks for the day
A Daily Planner can be electronic or paper but it's best to have a way to view your week at a glance. Be sure that you choose one that allows you to write out your "to-do" list; cross off items when you complete them and carry forward any incomplete items to the next day. It helps to review your "to-do" list at the start of each day so you're mentally prepared for what needs to get done!
A Weekly Schedule Planner is one method to help you keep track of what the days of each week should look like. Print it out and color in the blocks to show:
- When you're in class. You may choose to write in the class name/number and location
- When you work, or other "non-negotiable" times. This could include when you eat your meals, important organization meetings, work-out times, etc.
- When you'll study. Remember that you should schedule 2 hours outside of class for each credit you're taking (12 credits = 24 hours of study outside of class). You should strive to schedule the bulk of your study time during the day. For more detailed information about how/when/where to study, click here.
Once you've completed your Weekly Planner, post it on your bulletin board so you see it every day. If you change your schedule or if you have a job with variable work hours, print out the calendar each week and color it in to reflect what your week will look like. You want to be able to visualize each week and what you should be doing every hour of every day! If your friends want you to join them at a game or party, you'll know at a glance whether you have free time or somewhere else you need to be.
A Semester Planner is a good method for keeping track of big deadlines over the course of your semester. "Big deadlines" includes exams (including finals!), papers, group projects, speeches, and any other task that requires more than a few days of preparation. Print the semester planner and then go through every syllabus for every course and write in all of your big deadlines. Many professors will include the day/date/time/location for your final exams so you can add them to your planner at the beginning of the semester; if this information isn't in your syllabus, you can find it in the Schedule of Courses.
Again, once you've completed your Weekly & Semester Planners, post them on your bulletin board so that you'll see them each day.