Managing Your Time

If your academic success is a priority for you then learning to manage your time effectively is essential.  You will avoid a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration if you consider these basics:

  1. Analyze Your Commitments.  It's important to really look at all of the demands on your time.  Figure out what has to be done and what you do out of habit or tradition.  Things like class time, work hours, family routines may be fixed necessities.  Other things may be more flexible like time with friends, and other more social events.
  2. Prioritize.  Learn how to say no to things that aren't important to you.  If you always do everything that everyone else wants you to do, you can end up short changing your own goals.   If your academic goals are important to you, recognize that you will not be successful if you have organized your life in a way that leaves only tiny pockets of time to be a student.
  3. Be Realistic.  Most of the learning in a college course takes place outside of the classroom.  You will need at bare minimum one hour out of class for every hour you are in class.  If the material is new, or the content more challenging for you it is more practical to set aside two hours or even three hours for each hour in class.  This study time requirement is why you are considered a full-time student when you carry 12 - 15 credit hours.  If you add in the "outside of class" hours it is the equivalent of a full time job.
    1. You are not superhuman.  If you are trying to fit your education in around the edges of an already overloaded life you will end up frustrated and will probably accomplish very little.  Set reasonable goals so this can be a positive experience for you.
  4. Get Organized.  A weekly planner or assignment calendar can be a big help.  It's important to work at a steady pace.  Allow enough room in your life to routinely review your class notes, keep up with reading assignments and to work on assignments and homework.  If you put things off until just before deadline any unforeseen problem can have devastating consequences not to mention the added stress, anxiety and frustration you will experience if you wait until the last minute.  
  5. Find a Balance.  Figure out when you hit your "prime" every day and set aside study time with that in mind.  If you're a real "night owl" it probably won't work to set your alarm to get up early and finish a paper.  That's a sure formula for a "snooze" disaster. Tackle you biggest challenges when you concentrate best!
  6. Manage Distractions.  If you are constantly interrupted or battling to focus you may need a change of environment.  Remember the key is concentration not comfort.  Find a place that works for you - sprawled on your bed or in front of the TV are probably not the best options.  A quiet corner of the library, a desk in your room - look for a place that has the right balance of background activity and personal private space.  Turn off your phone.  Do whatever it takes to block out some solid work time.
  7. Reward Yourself.  Celebrate when you get something finished - or when you get through the piece that was on your list to accomplish.  Take a break or do something you really enjoy.  Give yourself a pat on the back for having the discipline to manage your time effectively.  You are one step closer to meeting your academic goals and that is worth a celebration!