You’ve probably learned by now that college requires multiple demands on your time. So what’s a student to do when assignments, exams, and projects start piling up?
Below are five tips for more effective time management during this increasingly busy and important period of the semester:
1. Identify main priorities
Consider what is most important at a given point in time and what can be dropped or put to the side until later. For example, you have the following to accomplish:
*Math final exam
*Intramural soccer game
*Trip to the mall to buy some new clothes
*Babysitting your cousin
Where do these items rank in priority? Once you know this, you should first focus on the top priorities.
Carefully review your syllabus for each course to determine how much time and effort should be devoted to each assignment. For example, if your MATH 150 final exam is worth 40% of your total grade, this should be marked higher priority than an assignment worth only 10% of your grade (note: this does not mean that you should not take the smaller assignment seriously; but rather, make sure you are fully prepared for the exam before you work on the assignment).
2. Technology is your friend
You’re likely already using your computer or smart phone on a daily basis. Set reminders/alarms on these devices a few days ahead of assignment deadlines or exam dates. This way, you don’t have to remember to check a planner. To do this, you’ll want to first gather up your course syllabi and make note of all upcoming due dates.
You could also try downloading a time management app to use on your phone.
3. Find Accountability
At this time of year, most students are experiencing a similar level of workload. Support and encourage one another! If you find that you are having difficulty focusing on your own, forming a study group or asking a friend to join you in the library may serve as a motivator and help increase your productivity. At a minimum, it’s great to have another person to talk to if you find yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed.
4. Plan for unexpected obstacles
Part of managing your time is learning how to plan for the unexpected. A laptop crash or misplaced notes in the 11th hour can make or break your ability to succeed. For this reason, it’s important to carve out enough time before projects are due or exams are scheduled so that you can work through any mishaps that might occur.
5. Take breaks
When you’re up against deadlines you’ll likely feel the pressure to power through. But powering through is rarely good for your focus and ability to retain information effectively. Taking small breaks will help you recharge for what’s ahead.
The key to taking a break is setting a reasonable time limit and determining what you will do during your break (example – going to the Commons to grab a snack or spending an hour at the RAC). Don’t let the break take over your time. Think of it as a small reward for completing a particular task –this will help increase your motivation to continue to check other items off your to-do list.
The important thing to remember about time management during this busy time of year is that you likely have more control than you think. When it comes down to it, time management is really just about choices –choices that you make.
If you start to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how you will accomplish all that you need to before the end of the semester, don’t hesitate to contact your academic advisor to talk through further time management strategies.
EXTRA CREDIT DISCUSSION QUESTION
What time management techniques do you find to be the most helpful for you as a student? Share your tips in the Comments section below!