Despite what you see in the movies and on TV, college is about more than getting drunk, frat parties and getting laid. There’s actually a lot of work involved. When you go off to college you’re going to have a new-found independence which comes with a lot of new found responsibilities. You are going to have classes, possibly a job, extra-curricular activities and hanging out with friends. If you live in the dorms there may be some other responsibilities as well (depending on how interactive your dorm is). All of this can become overwhelming. In order to survive all of this and still maintain your sanity, you are going to need some time-management techniques. Here are a few that I have personally used to keep me on top of things while in college.
1. Write everything down: You know those Planners that they handed out during orientation? They gave them to you for a reason. Writing things down is the number one way to help you remember them. If there isn’t enough room on the planner they gave you, you can pick one up at your school book store or at Borders. Write down important appointments you have, class schedules, etc. This brings me to my next tip.
2. Create a schedule chart: Doing this will help you know keep track of what you are supposed to be doing at any given time of the day. You can make one in excel or you can make one by hand (if you’re crafty and neat). If you have Microsoft Outlook, and you’re on your computer a lot (that’s a good way to keep track of your appointments as well). So, remember schedules are a lifesaver!
3. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. That’s an old saying, but to some extent it’s true. Just think, if you got a good nights sleep and got up early in the morning to do errands like cook, clean or just do homework, you would be that much more effective during the day. Unless you work nights, this is a great way to maximize your productivity!
4. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE: Even after reading this there will still be countless college students who will wait until the last minute to write a paper or study for an exam, but I still have to say it. This common-sense tip is frequently ignored, because people overestimate how easy it is to pass a class. That’s why there are so many C students out there. Imagine if everyone started in early to get their work done. We’d have a nation full of A students!
5. Take control: It’s easy to blame your problems on others. When you don’t pass a class you can say, “the test was too hard”, “the professor is mean”, “I didn’t get a chance to study because my friends always want to go out every night”. You have to remember that your time is yours! One day, you’re going to be 80 years old and you don’t want to look back on your life and say “If only Sharon wasn’t such a party animal, I could’ve been a doctor!” You need to draw the line and set limits. If you need to tell your friends, I’ll party with you this week, but next week I have to study, then do it! Don’t be afraid. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences. If they don’t understand then ask yourself if they are really your friends. Also, taking control may mean controlling your environment. If you find that every time you’re in your bedroom, you can’t study, go to the library. The fact that you can’t focus may not be because you’re lazy or stupid, it might mean you’re just in the wrong environment. Taking control is vital to using your time wisely and being an effective student.
6. Never skip class: Unless you have a doctor’s appointment or a serious emergency DO NOT SKIP CLASS! Even if you think the teacher is horrible and you learn better from the book, you could still benefit from going to class. Sometimes the teacher can say things in class that are not covered in the book. Also, class time is a time for you to ask the teacher questions. You learn a lot in class and it could cut down on the time you spend trying to understand the book if you just attend lectures.
7. Always have a plan: Just like anything else in life, luck favors the prepared so plan ahead! If you know there is an exam coming up, get out your schedule or planner and mark out some time that you are going to dedicate to studying and studying only. But don’t stop there, plot out your course of action. For example say “on Monday from 2-4PM I’m going to focus on sections 3.3 and 3.4” etc. Be specific. That way you’re not just shooting blindly in the dark. Having a plan can save you a lot of time!
8. Try to stay ahead of the class: If you are able to buy your textbooks before the first day of class. Take some time to thumb through the book. Get a feel of what the course is going to cover. Reading the first chapter would be very beneficial. When the instructor gives you your syllabus, read each section ahead of the day he covers it. That way, when he talks about it in class it will be a review and you can ask him questions on the material you don’t understand. Feel free to read as far ahead as you want. It doesn’t hurt. Just make sure you stay on top of the coursework you’re supposed to know for given assignments and tests.
9. Ask for help: The biggest time-waster is trying to figure something out that you can get someone to help you with. If it’s an assignment, there are tutors for that. Talk to your classmates, professor, etc. College is teaming with people just waiting to help out eager young students like yourself.
10. Be Realistic: Being in college, we can sometimes feel like we’re invincible. Like we can take on the world and do everything at once. After all, we made it to college, right? Well, you have to pace yourself. At the beginning of your school year, go easy on yourself. If you must work, only work about 5 hours just for starters. Then get the feel of what your course load is like and if you feel like you have a lot of down time pick up a few more hours at work. I would not recommend going over 12 hours of work if you have a full course load. You can not work full time and do extra curricular activities AND get all A’s in your classes. Don’t overextend yourself. This will allow you to use your time wisely and avoid stress.I hope these tips were helpful to you. Please leave a comment letting me know if you have any time management tricks that you use.