TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
PRIORITIZE: sort tasks/activities into three groups – “A”, “B”, and “C”. “A’s” are essential and get completed first.
Time Allocation: decide how long the task/activity is going to take and schedule accordingly. Be conservative – if you finish early, you can relax or use the time to catch up in other areas.
Relaxation: everyone needs time to relax; it is a necessity for your mental and physical health and well-being. Schedule relaxation as you would any other activity.
Exercise: Stress reduces academic performance, whereas exercise reduces stress. Work out regularly so that your body and mind can perform at their peak.
Flexibility: there are always going to be unforeseen obstacles that arise – allow for it and do not panic. The use of a schedule makes it relatively easy to accommodate the unexpected.
Floating Tasks: these are tasks that can be done any time, anywhere. Be prepared to use bonus time to read a book, write a letter, review a paper, etc.
Mid-terms and Finals: Scrap everything that is not essential for survival during mid-terms and finals weeks!
TIME MANAGEMENT COMPROMISES
Re-Prioritize: Are you trying to do too much? Change the priority level of certain tasks – reconsider how many hours you want to work per week, how many hours you need to spend with your family, and how many hours you need for yourself.
Postpone: If necessary, postpone lower priority level tasks.
Delegate: ask or hire someone else to do certain tasks.
Speed Up: Sacrifice EXCELLENCE for expediency. There may be times when you choose to compromise on the quality of your work in favor of getting it done!
Give Up: Sometimes the best choice is to choose to drop an activity. If it is unrealistic to think that you can accomplish your goal to your satisfaction, it is better to wait until you have the time and/or skills to do it better.
Do It Differently: Continually evaluate if there is a better way you can do things – for example, leave a task out, spread the task out over time, cut back in some areas and concentrate on others, etc.
TIPS TO MAKE TIME MANAGEMENT EASIER
- Complete small tasks quickly rather than postponing them. The sense of accomplishment you will get will encourage you to take on larger and more complicated tasks.
- Break down large, complicated or boring tasks into smaller and more manageable pieces.
- Write large assignments a section at a time.
- Identify your best time of the day to study – everyone has “peak performance” times when they are able to accomplish more.
- Study subjects that are boring and/or challenging first when you are fresh and have more energy.
- Use the library to study – it is the only activity that takes place there. If you don’t want to use the library, find another place that is free of distractions.
- Avoid distractions. If there are common distractions you use to procrastinate, find ways to eliminate your access to them.
- Treat school as if it were a job. Try to accomplish school tasks within a specific time period, if possible (e.g., 8-5 M-F). If you are able to devote these hours to attending classes and studying, then week-ends and evenings can be freed up for family, friends, and other activities.
WHERE DOES TIME GO?
At times, it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Sometimes it is true – there are too many things to do, and not enough time. However, sometimes it is that we are not using our time as efficiently as we are able.
LEARN TO ORGANIZE
Another key component of effective time management is organization. Having all school-related materials organized and in one place can save significant time.
1) Use some type of system for each class to keep track of the syllabus, class notes, handouts, etc. Spiral notebooks with lined paper work well for note-taking, and they are available with pockets lining the front and back cover for filing your class papers. These notebooks come in multiple-subject format with pocketed dividers between each subject. Another system that works well is a 3-ring binder.
2) Locate a space where you live that can be used to keep all school-related items – notebooks, textbooks, research articles, equipment, etc.
3) Create a system to keep track of all your papers. If you choose to use a 3-ring binder, you can buy a 3-hole punch to use on handouts, the syllabus, etc. Another possibility is to use file folders and store them in an inexpensive file box kept with the rest of your school items.
It doesn’t matter which system you use – the important thing is to experiment and find the system that works best for you.