A college schedule is not as rigid as a high school schedule. In high school, administrators plan nearly every moment of every day. Sure, it’s possible to do whatever you want, whenever you want. But, it would help if you didn’t overlook the consequences this presents. And, most notably, managing your time effectively.
Most of you have probably never given much thought to time management. Yet, without it, college would be more challenging and less rewarding. For this reason, managing time is significant for all college students. And, if you can master college time management in your first semester, you’ll be unstoppable.
Also, college time management is a skill you can use for the rest of your life. For example, it can help you manage your future work and personal responsibilities — aka work-life balance.
For this reason, we have prepared a guide to help you effectively manage your time as you enter college.
1. Be aware of time-wasters and set goals.
Getting distracted is something we all experience from time to time. However, you should pay attention to what causes you to lose focus on your studies and assignments.
- Do you spend too much time on social media playing Fortnite?
- Are you constantly texting and answering personal calls while studying?
- Are you finding that you spend a lot of time aimlessly browsing the web?
Set a goal not to do anything that wastes your time during dedicated study time. Instead, use those activities as rewards for staying focused and completing your tasks.
2. Get ahead.
There will be more significant assignments in college, such as research papers. When you’re still in high school, experts recommend starting these larger projects well ahead of their due dates rather than cramming at the last minute. It is also essential to study for tests that are scheduled in advance.
If you’ve already graduated, make this a summer priority. An example would be getting a check-up before starting college. Before registering for classes, most incoming first-year students must provide a recent physical exam and vaccination history. Also, if living on campus, don’t wait to select your housing, meal plan, or purchase dorm essentials.
“If you have a research paper due in two weeks, find your research within the first two or three days, then work on reading it for the next four or five days, and then write the paper,” says Jodi Bahr, a science teacher at Harvard Middle School and Harvard High School in Nebraska – also known as Harvard Public School – and high school science teaching division director for the National Science Teaching Association.
3. Work straight from your calendar.
You don’t have to ghost your to-do list. To-do lists are great and all. But it would help if you tried working directly from your calendar instead.
Your mindset changes from a task-based to a time-based one when you work straight from your calendar. With a calendar, you can see when deadlines are and how much time you have left. Additionally, it can increase the sense of urgency for time-sensitive items to be completed first.
Using your calendar view, you can see when you have a lot of work due and when you have fewer things to do. And, if your social schedule needs to be adjusted for a due date, you’ll know immediately.
ISO of a calendar app? You have plenty to choose from. But, I would recommend Calendar, Google Calendar, and My Study Life.
4. Create a dedicated study time.
I already briefly mentioned this. However, it’s worth repeating.
Establish a time for studying or homework only. Don’t pick up the phone and respond to notifications until you’ve finished your work. In addition, avoid checking email or surfing the Web during this time — except when necessary.
If you can, this block of time should be when you feel most energetic and productive. So, if you’re a night owl, this would be later in the day or evening.
5. Leverage technology.
Technology makes college time management easier. For example, you can use time management apps to help you stay on top of things. Some of the best time management apps out there are Todoist, TimeTree, and the already mentioned Calendar.
As previously mentioned, even simple and existing tools like timers and calendars on your handheld device can be used to manage your time.
6. Separate work time from fun time.
There are times to work and times to have fun. So invest your time accordingly. While there are exceptions, like throwing a study pizza party with a classmate, it’s not always possible to combine working and having fun.
7. Only do one thing at a time.
Those who multitask have a drop in IQ like someone who didn’t sleep the night before, according to a University of London study. In other words, you’ll be less productive if you’re juggling multiple tasks and assignments.
When you feel tempted to multitask, ask yourself:
- What is your most common distraction?
- Is it possible to turn off the devices or applications?
If you can, turn off all devices. And never start another task until the one before it has been completed.
Breaking this habit may be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.
8. Always keep your eye on the prize.
To manage your time effectively, you need to be able to handle stressful situations effectively. For example, if you’re feeling a lot of pressure because of your school obligations, you can get overwhelmed. Even worse, you may forget which assignments to prioritize.
A simple way to avoid this is to keep your eye on the prize. But, first, don’t forget that college is only a temporary stopover. The knowledge and skills you’re gaining will be helpful one day in your career and personal life.
9. Ask for help.
Asking for help often takes the form of delegation, which is a method of time management. Imagine taking turns cleaning if you’re living with roommates, for example. If you do this, you will be able to focus on schoolwork (or social activities) a bit more.
You could also ask a classmate the hacks they use to stay on top of everything. And, if you’re really struggling, find out what resources are offered by your school. There are also plenty of free mental health resources for college students.
10. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”
If you have a test the following morning and your friend asks you to go to a movie one night, it’s okay to say no. You could instead plan a time that works for both of you to see the latest MCU movie.
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!