As a student, life can be a big challenge – especially finding the time to attend classes, study, work at a job, participate in sports or other extra-curricular activities, visit with friends and family, or just have some time to yourself. It would be great if you could increase the number of hours in a day, but short of that, making the best use of those hours can make things a lot easier – and with better results.
That's what time management is all about: making the best use of your time so you can learn more, get better grades, have more free time, or accomplish anything else that's important to you. But first, you need to know what's important. Without goals and priorities, it's too easy to drift and find out that your life is not turning out the way you hoped. By taking advantage of the resources in the three sections below, you can build a clear plan of action, including the steps for implementing it. Even better, these resources focus specifically on time management for college students.
These resources show you practical steps and guidelines for implementing your goals and priorities:
Priority Setting: First Things First by the University Counseling Center at Virginia Tech. Key methods for effectively setting priorities, such as numbering tasks that must be accomplished in order of importance, and then staying focused on the most important task before working on the next ones.
Effective Planning Strategies by the University of Guelph. A variety of strategies are presented, such as creating a master timetable that factors in class schedules, recreation, study time and spacing out the study time for optimal learning and focus.
"Top 40" Study Strategies by the University of Guelph. Strategies cover "Time Management," "Listening and Note taking," "Textbook Reading" and "Exam Preparation." To illustrate, here's a strategy from the time management section: "Break tasks into smaller, more manageable jobs (Example: Week 1 = Essay outline, Week 2 = Research, Week 3 = Rough Draft, Week 4 = Final Draft)"
Once you've laid out the big picture, you need to organize the practical details of identifying tasks to accomplish, setting up schedules and establishing the best time and place for studying.
Making a Task List by the University of Guelph. "One of the basics of effective time management is to be aware of all that needs to be done. Though many people keep track of day-to-day activities in their heads, effective time managers facilitate planning and productivity by making a task list." This resource covers three basic steps: listing all study-related tasks, estimating the time each task will take and ranking them in priority order.
Time Scheduling by the University Counseling Center at Virginia Tech. Eight tips for effective time-scheduling as a college student, such as: "Plan for Weekly Reviews: At least one hour each week for each class (distinct from study time) should be scheduled. The weekend is a good time for review."
Time Scheduling Suggestions by the University Counseling Center at Virginia Tech. Practical advice on how to prepare long-term, intermediate-term and short-term schedules.
When to Study, Where to Study, and How to Handle the Rest of the World by the Student Learning Center at Rice University. Detailed, practical tips on time management. Some examples:
When to Study: "Plan two hours of study time for every hour spent in class. There are exceptions, but this is a good general rule."
Where to Study: "Use a regular study area. Your body knows where you are. When you use the same place to study, day after day, your body becomes trained. When you arrive at that particular place, it will automatically sense that it's time to study. You will focus your concentration more quickly."
How to Handle the Rest of the World: "Notice how others misuse your time. Be aware of repeat offenders. Ask yourself if there are certain friends or relatives who consistently interrupt your study time. If avoiding them is impractical, send a clear (but gentle) message. Sometimes others don't realize they are breaking your concentration."
Having clear goals and priorities, as well as a detailed schedule and task list, does not assure success as a student. The best plans can be side-tracked because of procrastination – especially when it comes to studying. The Web resources in this section help you understand why you might procrastinate and how to avoid it.
Procrastination Test by QueenDom.Com. After responding to 40 questions, you will receive feedback on "whether you are a procrastinator, and if so, why you procrastinate and what areas of your life are most affected."
Overcoming Procrastination by the Counseling Center, Division of Student Affairs, State University of New York at Buffalo. A concise discussion of procrastination in three sections: "What is Procrastination?" "Why Do Students Procrastinate?" and "How to Overcome Procrastination"
Controlling Procrastination by the University of Guelph. Practical tips on how to minimize procrastination. For example, set realistic study goals. One goal would be to study 30-60 minutes/day of difficult material rather than expecting to cover 50 pages in one 5-6 hour sitting.
Procrastination: Ten Ways to Do It Now by the University Counseling Center at Virginia Tech. This article starts out with an excellent perspective on why so many people procrastinate. Understanding the causes takes you a long way towards solving them. Then, 10 practical remedies for procrastination are presented.
An example: "Design Clear Goals. Think about what you want and what needs to be done. Be specific. If it's getting that work project completed by the deadline, figure out a time table with realistic goals at each step. Keep your sights within reason. Having goals too big can scare you away from starting."