One of the reasons that getting started in college can require adjustments is that in high school, time management is not much of an issue. Often, high school classes do not really challenge students - especially the ones that excel in typical high school classes.
In college, everyone is admitted because they have strong academic skills. A full-range of grades will be applied to these students based on the expectations of the college or university. It is not uncommon to see an "A" or "B" student go to a "C' or "D" student because of this change.
In college, the difference between an "A" student and a "C" student (or even a "D" or "F" student) is often the result of difference in study habits and time management - not the ability of the students. To more fully ensure success in college, it is important to look at both of these factors.
There are many different ways to manage time - no one way is best for everyone. Like many things in life, the key is self-knowledge or self-understanding. Once a person knows and accepts their needs, it is possible to develop a time management plan that will help then work more efficiently
and get things done. We all have 168 hours each week, are we ready to make the most of that time?
Why Schedule Your Time?
Want to do more than school work? Want to "do it all?" Then time management is definitely for you. Time scheduling is the best way to be more certain of accomplishing important things and still
have time for the little pleasures of life.
Creating and maintaining a time schedule is also a great strategy for dealing with distractions - set aside enough time to accomplish things that need to be done and put the plan in action.
Soon, the things that distract you will no longer be important because you will actually "free-up" more time to enjoy any number of other activities.
Without a time schedule, a person is constantly making day-to-day and hour-to-hour decisions about what to do and how to manage time. This, in itself, is a serious distraction and a time-waster.
By planning a time schedule, these decisions are made in advance, when you are in the best frame of mind to make them.
Because a workable time schedule means that time management decisions have already been made, we become "desensitized" to distractions. Things that used to compete for our attention are less likely to bother us if we have already made decisions about what is important and how we are going to spend our time.
For many of us, a time schedule will also "free-up" time that used to be spent worrying or wondering when we were going to get around to doing important things. Perhaps most important, planning a time schedule and managing time effectively will actually give us more time to do the things we enjoy.
Remember, keeping a time schedule is not a matter of "will power" or "self-discipline" so much as it is developing habits about making a plan, following that outline, and evaluating and revising plans when necessary. In order to make this a habit, some will need to practice the process for a number of weeks,
making progress and not worrying about perfection.
Be sure to plan for adequate recreation and even exercise. If a student finds they need to plan more time for studies, look at the unscheduled time in the plan first - when possible, do not trade-off recreational time for study time. Try to work extra study time around the rest of the schedule. Exceptions will occur. Re-evaluating and revising is part of planning!
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Let's look at 4 strategies that can be used to manage time effectively in college. They include:
- Creating a semester schedule
- Assessing and planning the workload for each week
- Adjusting the plan, based on needs, each day
- Evaluating the schedule - keep what is working and adjust areas that are problems.
Creating a Semester Schedule
At the beginning of the semester, using the course syllabus, record each known assignment including quizzes, tests, projects, and papers. Keeping an organized schedule of ALL class assignments from the beginning of the semester creates some structure for the entire semester.
It also makes clear the higher academic demands of college and identifies parts of the semester where we will have to "get down to business" and any parts of the semester that will allow for more flexibility and leisure time.
Getting the most out of college means GETTING INVOLVED! Record co-curricular activities including work hours, meetings, social commitments, and out-of-town weekends. These are important activities that provide balance in our lives - they deserve to be part of the semester schedule too.
This schedule is not "set in stone." Update and revise the semester schedule regularly. This schedule will be of no value if it does not reflect up-to-date demands and activities. Things will change: assignment due dates, assignments are added, other activities
come up, and commitments change. Keeping the semester schedule current gets us ready for
the next step in time management, assessing and planning your weekly schedule.
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Assessing and Planning Your Weekly Schedule
Once we have the "big picture," we create a plan to keep us moving towards success by looking at our commitments and progress each week. At the end of each week, make a list of things to accomplish in the upcoming week. Friday afternoons or evenings, before starting the weekend, can be a great time to do this. Our weekly schedule should include class assignments and class attendance.
To do this in a meaningful way, we need to be absolutely honest with ourselves - the weekly plan will do us no good if it doesn't accurately reflect the things we need to accomplish and the work that will need to be done to get these tasks accomplished. Be sure to include EVERYTHING.
Include co-curricular activities, work hours, errands, exercise, meals, and time with friends. Daily living activities and co-curricular activities are important, provide balance, but take time away from studying. Preparing dinner and cleaning up or attending student organization meetings can take as much time as reading a chapter in a textbook. Make sure that the schedule is complete and comprehensive.
Then, estimate how long each task will take. If creating this type of schedule is new to you, this part of weekly planning might present a challenge.
Activities take different amounts of time - estimate how much time you will need and make this estimate part of each activity in the weekly plan. At this time, it is probably better to use longer estimates if we are not sure how long something will take.
Identify the day on which you will accomplish each task, keeping in mind the amount of time that task will take and other things that must be done that day. Be sure to look at the whole week so that everything that needs to be accomplished is included - the whole point is to avoid "surprises" or missing deadlines. Many college professors will not accept late work.
Next, prioritize all the activities on the schedule - what absolutely must be done and which are the least important. Rating each as an A, B, or C works well:
- "A" represents items that absolutely need to be done.
- "B" represents items that need to be completed, but not if they take away from tasks assigned an "A"
- "C" represents items that we want to accomplish, but that can be considered optional or perhaps even responsibly put off until another time.
Like all aspects of time management, being honest with ourselves and developing a good self-understanding of our needs is the key. This is especially true when setting the priorities for each item on our schedule.
This leads us to the next step, adjusting the plan each day.
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Adjusting the Plan Each Day
After we have a weekly schedule, at the start of each day, create a daily schedule. This should include the items identified on the weekly schedule, any tasks from the previous day that are not fully accomplished, as well as any new tasks. An index card or a daily planner works great for this - use something that is easy to keep track of and take with you.
To get maximum use of the daily schedule, keep it with you throughout the day. Use it as a reference tool and cross out tasks as they are completed - this is an important step as it provides a sense of accomplishment.
When writing out the daily schedule, be sure to assess the priorities of each item - things may have changed since the time the weekly schedule was completed, especially if some items from the previous day were not accomplished. Prioritize each item on the daily schedule with the same A, B, C rating system we used for the weekly schedule.
The daily schedule is what makes things actually happen - we will need to have enough self-discipline and honesty to work on each task until its completion based on the priority we have assigned. This leads us to the last step of effective time management, evaluating the schedule.
Evaluating the Schedule
Each day, before starting the activities on the daily schedule, review your plans for the day and ask yourself if they are
realistic given the amount of time each task will take.
If something will take longer than the plan indicates, remove some of the "C" or even "B" priority items to clear some time and keep the schedule manageable. Then, at the end of each day, evaluate the schedule. Did everything on the schedule get done? Why or why not?
Be sure to identify if things were left undone because time estimates where wrong/unrealistic or if failure to complete a task is the result of not sticking to the schedule.
This step will take rigorous honesty! The whole point of a schedule is to provide organization, structure, and "keep us on-track."
If something did not work out as planned, identify what can be done to make the schedule work in the future - build on successes and try different approaches.
This step provides the feedback we need to review and adjust our semester schedule, weekly schedule, and the daily schedule to keep us moving towards our main goal: SUCCESS IN COLLEGE!
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How Much Time To Plan on Studying?
Most universities recommend that students study at least 2 hours outside of class for every hour spent in class. Many students take 12-15 credit hours per semester. This is a commitment of 12-15 hours in class and at least 24-30 additional hours studying outside of class. How much time should YOU plan on spending? That is up to you.
The University of Minnesota Libraries in collaboration with the CLA Student Writing Center, Center for Teaching and Learning Services and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing; has developed an online
Assignment Calculator to provide suggestions as to the planning that goes into completing an assignment. CHECK IT OUT!
Simply enter the date you plan on starting the assignment and the due date. You can also enter the subject area of the assignment. While not required, entering a subject area might generate a set of unique resources that the Research QuickStart automatically tracks down for you!
Based on when the assignment is due, this Website will suggest strategies for getting started, provide suggested dates to complete various tasks, and even offer you the option to sign up for an email reminder to help you keep on task!
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We all have 24 hours each day to work with - yet some people just get more done, often, to a high level of quality. What makes the difference? People that get twice as much done probably don't work twice as hard; they work more efficiently.
A college education provides many benefits and rewards. One of them is that it teaches us to structure and manage our time. Ultimately, this comes down to having a plan. It also helps to pay attention to all of the little ways that we can use time efficiently.
25 Time Saving Tips
Count all your time as time to be used and make every attempt to get satisfaction out of every moment.
Find something to enjoy in whatever you do.
Try to be an optimist and seek out the good in your life.
Find ways to build on your successes.
Stop regretting your failures and start learning from your mistakes.
Remind yourself, "There is always enough time for the important things." If it is important, you should be able to make time to do it.
Continually look at ways of freeing up your time.
Examine your old habits and search for ways to change or eliminate them.
Keep paper or a calendar with you to jot down things you have to do or notes to yourself.
Put up reminders in your home about your goals.
Always keep those long-term goals in mind.
Plan your day each morning or the night before and set priorities for yourself.
Maintain and develop a list of specific things to be done each day.
Set your priorities and get the most important ones done as soon in the day as you can.
Look ahead in your month and try to anticipate what is going to happen so you can better schedule your time.
Try rewarding yourself when you get things done as you had planned, especially the important ones.
Do first things first.
When you catch yourself procrastinating, ask yourself, "What am I avoiding?"
Start with the most difficult parts of projects, then either the worst is done or you may find you don't have to do all the other small tasks.
Catch yourself when you are involved in unproductive projects and stop as soon as you can.
Find time to concentrate on high priority items or activities.
Concentrate on one thing at a time.
Push yourself and be persistent, especially when you know you are doing well.
Think on paper when possible - it makes it easier to review and revise.
Be sure and set deadlines for yourself whenever possible.
Ask for advice when needed.
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