It’s high time to admit: College students have a fully loaded schedule, complete with both intellectual and physical work.
Lectures, seminars, exams, academic writing, campus life—all this takes time and can often feel like a delicate balancing act. Given that many students combine work with study and still need time for hobbies, rest, and private life, efficient time management becomes a vital skill to master.
- Do you feel overwhelmed by study and work?
- Do you feel stressed as a result of a busy schedule?
- Do you struggle to balance school and private life?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions and often find yourself fatigued or frustrated, you need to learn how to more effectively manage your time. Developing time management skills will not only give you a chance to breathe, but also help raise your GPA, make you more organized, and enable you to mix business with pleasure.
Here are some time management skills every college student should learn:
Set Goals (And Write Them Down!)
A smart student knows what he wants. The smartest student sets particular goals and knows what to do to achieve them. See the difference?
Start with weekly to-do lists. Write down at least three short-term goals to accomplish: office hours with your professor once a week, an hour every other day at the gym, two hours every Thursday for class readings, etc. Whatever the goals, write them down and stick with them. Once you’ve completed a goal, you can check it off your list. This can add a sense of accomplishment and help motivate you to achieve more of your goals.
Plan Everything (And Prioritize!)
With tight student schedules, the best way to make sure you have time for everything is to plan ahead. This ties back into the whole writing-it-down thing. One great way to plan ahead and stay on-top of upcoming plans and assignments is to write it all down in a planner or on a calendar. Reminders in Google calendars and other apps are also a helpful way to plan your week, month, or semester.
Find what works best for you and start filling up those days. Remember to write down due dates as soon as you get them to avoid falling behind or having to do a last minute cram-session.(Also read our tips on how to be a better studier before finals.)
Another trick: prioritize the most challenging tasks on your list to ensure you have enough time to complete them. Known as the “eat that frog” technique, prioritizing your tasks in this way will help you use your daily energy wisely: whether your “frog” is essay writing or learning a million definitions for upcoming exams – prioritize your “battery” to use it those tasks and assignments which are most demanding.
Be Careful With Gadgets (And Limit Distractions!)
The Internet eases the learning process but holds some hidden dangers. While doing online research for an upcoming class project, you risk getting side-tracked by emails, social media, and other time-eaters. The same happens when you learn something with TV or radio in the background: they steal up to 25% of your time.
Determine your distractions and turn them off to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Don’t try to kill two birds with one stone: break down difficult assignments into sections, and complete each one by one.
Make your guilty pleasure an award for accomplished work. For example, spend 15 minutes on Facebook or watch a video on YouTube once you’ve completed a due task.
Master The Parallel Principle (And Be Flexible!)
While important tasks such as writing your first college research paper require a concentrated effort, chances are there are many other tasks on your to-do list that don’t require a high level of concentration. Here’s where you can put those multi-tasking skills to work.
- Read textbooks and lecture notes while taking public transportation to your off-campus job
- Listen to audio books while cooking or cleaning
- Refresh learned information while walking to class
Multi-tasking in these ways prevents the waste of time and allows you to fill your days effectively. your days to capacity. It will also help grow your productivity, allowing you to do more in less time while still getting enough time for proper rest. But be realistic — don’t overestimate what you can accomplish each day.
Also, be flexible with rearranging some tasks on your to-do list. It’s a guide for you to complete more, not a supervising officer who’ll punish or penalize you if you don’t finish everything by the end of today. After all, tomorrow is another chance to succeed!
Get Rid of Stress (And Never Feel Sorry for Yourself!)
Stressed and overwhelmed with all you have to do in college? You are not alone! (Surprise-surprise, all your peers feel the same.)
But did you know you can control that stress through better time management? Start each day by making a list of your accomplishments, both big and small. These can include a high grade for your essay, talks with your professor about the concepts from yesterday’s lecture, your early wakings for workouts before going to class, etc. When focusing on success rather than failure, you eliminate college stress and save energy (and time!).
By acknowledging your accomplishments, you also minimize the amount of time you spend feeling of sorry for yourself. Playing the victim and having a pity mindset brings nothing but more stress and procrastination. Instead of moaning about all the things you have to do, turn your negative thoughts into positive ones—it helps to make more room for accomplishing more tasks from your to-do list in less time.
Long story short: forget the “I-will-never-do-that-on-time” mantra and just imagine how well you will feel when a professor compliments your hard work or when you get a scholarship for your achievements. Once you leave the pity-party behind and focus on your time management skills, you’ll find yourself more productive than ever!