Time Management Tips
The Importance of Time Managment
Time management is a life-long challenge. Effective time management helps us sort priorities, set our goals, and establish and carry out small, time-limited tasks. A second component to time management involves reflecting on current obstacles which may stand in the way of reaching our goals; obstacles we may choose to live with, modify, or remove. Time management is important for the student juggling a job, schoolwork, and a social life. It is also important in balancing a family life, academic life, and work. It is easy to become overwhelmed when we have multiple commitments and desires pulling at our limited amount of daily time. Effective time management helps us to become responsible not only to others, but also to ourselves. It provides a framework within which we can see the structure of our daily lives. It also helps us to understand which parts of our lives are in balance and which parts are out of balance. Ultimately, when time management plans and strategies are used effectively, we are able to get the most out of our daily lives.
Tips for Academic Time Management
Keep a small note pad and pen with you. New goals will come to you throughout the day, such as studying a chapter of history, writing a paper, or studying for a math quiz. As soon as you know your goals, write them down. Then break them into smaller tasks, such as reviewing math notes for a quiz, visiting the math lab to get help with problems that are not understood, reworking old problems, trying new similar problems, composing a practice quiz, taking the quiz. When you complete a task, check it off your goal and task list. This will increase your feeling of mastery.
- Give yourself a break! If you are daydreaming or not concentrating in the midst of studying, you may need to break your tasks into short segments or create study breaks between them. For most people, 20 minute tasks are optimal, e.g. studying 5 pages of history. When the tasks are deemed long and arduous, we are likely to procrastinate, daydream, and find distractions. Reviewing class notes after class and before class can be a wise investment of 5-10 minutes. Review the material, and place a question mark beside material you do not understand. In the margins, write possible questions the instructor could ask you on a test.
- Start your class assignments as close to your last class as possible. The material will be freshest in your mind. Make a habit of completing homework early, not just on time.
- Utilize campus study labs. Tutors are there to help you understand the material more clearly and utilize your time efficiently.
- Imagine you are in your “ideal study environment,” a place where your ability to concentrate will increase. Where is that place, and what makes it ideal? For some of us that means studying away from televisions, telephones, children, friends, and spouses. Wherever it is, consistently utilize that place and time. Make it a habit! Do not succumb to distractions, no matter how compelling they may be.
- Stop being “Mr. or Ms. Nice Person” to everybody but yourself. If an academic education is your goal, you will have to learn to say “no” to many demands on your time and attention. Say “no” in a courteous, caring way, but learn to say “yes” to your priorities. Others will eventually respect your directness and ability to successfully take care of your own needs. Successful time management is dependent on setting priorities and adhering to them.
- Find new ways of relaxing your body and mind. Use the few moments you have between tasks to smell the roses and relax. Visualize relaxing in a rose garden or resting on a beach for 3 minutes. Even 1 minute of relaxation can relieve unwanted tension.
- If further help is needed, visit our office. Counselors are available to listen to your concerns and help you understand the next step.
- Most of us do not actually examine where our time goes each day. The following assessment may help you to understand choices you have made in relationship to on-going activities. For a start, how much time do you spend per week in the following activities?
- Study time (normally figured as class hours multiplied by 2.5 study hours)
- Hours of paid employment
- Hours of unpaid employment (volunteer experiences, internships, community service, etc.)
- Child care
- House care
- Meals and meal preparation
- The spiritual aspect of my life
- Special time with spouse, friends, etc.
- Other forms of leisure
- Other _______________
- Other _______________
- Other _______________
Next, take out a blank piece of paper. See if you can fit your activities into a weekly time chart. After completing the chart, notice what insights and feelings emerge about the ways you are currently choosing to spend your time. Also, notice if there are changes that need to be made in order to accomplish the goals that are most important to you. If you need to do so, revise your current time chart!
Time Management Inventory
- The following inventory will help you focus on personal skills, habits, and motivators that contribute to successful time management while you are a student. Take a few moments to reflect on each item. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with a rating of 1 = never and a rating of 10 = always.
- I know my broad academic goals and I am highly motivated to achieve them.
- I constantly set small, achievable tasks for myself in order to reach my goals.
- I write my goals and tasks down each day and check them off when they are completed.
- I am successful at courteously ending telephone calls and conversations when needed.
- I can say “no” firmly, courteously, and without guilt concerning requests for my time or attention when other priorities are pressing.
- I am able to set effective study breaks for myself and I do not allow myself to be distracted from my academic work.
- I am on time to classes and other engagements.
- I am able to balance my time wisely in accomplishing what I need to accomplish.
- I review my notes immediately after a class and before the next class.
- I do not procrastinate in starting or completing what I need to accomplish.
Congratulate yourself on areas about which you feel successful! Take time to reflect on areas you may need to make changes in order to facilitate effective time management.