Time management is not an innate talent, but a skill and a rather useful one. Just like any other habit, it’s something that is developed over time as we have different experiences. Inadequate time management can lead to frustration or the general feeling that we are not accomplishing as much as we need to in a given amount of time. It can become a source of stress for many students, and in the extreme cases, lead to dropping grades and an overall feeling of failure. With many students working part-time jobs and taking a full course load, it may become difficult to keep track of pending assignments, let alone fulfill all our responsibilities in one day.
I have compiled a list of ideas and tips from various sources that may help sharpen your time management skills. I know that I haven’t been the only student that feels overwhelmed by this aspect of work and school, so hopefully this helps anyone who is currently feeling overwhelmed with school.
A lot of students tend to procrastinate, and I won’t lie, I’ve been there. Imagine for a minute that you work every single day of the week without having a minute to catch up with your studies. You find yourself awake until 2 a.m. every morning and drinking a huge cup of coffee just to finish that paper that’s due the next day. This dreaded cycle can be a source of stress for many, not to mention inadequate sleep leads to a generalized feeling of mental “sluggishness,” which then leads to class tardies, etc. It isn’t a way to live, but there isn’t a day in your life where you can set boundaries and say no to things. The solution? Learn to say no to things you can’t do or prioritize your time so that everything gets done as you please.
Carry a planner. Write down all your activities for the week, pending assignments, due dates, and if it helps, break down long projects into short, more doable tasks. For instance, if you have an English paper due in 2 weeks, plan to work on a little bit each night. One night you can start taking notes and looking up resources. The next, you can make an outline and so on.
Make sure you study every chance you get. Review your class notes at stop lights, when brushing your teeth, or when you’re cooking. You’ll see that the information will start to stick after a while. Repetition allows the information to accumulate over time.
Put your phone on silent. Better yet, shut it off. No one wants to deal with interruptions and be taken away from their work. By turning off your cell phone, you limit these distractions and get work done more quickly. The people on the other end will understand, and you’ll feel more satisfied when you know you’re getting things done as you have planned.
Get organized. Nothing is worse than being unorganized. That’s a whole other stress component by itself. Get organized by filing papers in your binder and use sticky notes to remind yourself of class sections that have assignments that need to get done.
Remember to breathe – if you can. There’s no doubt about it; college students tend to have crazy schedules and numerous time commitments every week. Throughout all this, make it a point to unwind and relax for a bit. Placing yourself in a state of everlasting hyperactivity is not only damaging, it’s unhealthy. Our brains are complex, and information-overload can affect us in even the worst ways possible. Sooner than later, you realize you start applying concepts from one class in another that has nothing to do with it. (Yes, it’s happened). Give yourself time to breathe every once a while. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll see your health improve as well.
Finally, remind yourself that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. Don’t allow one bad day to ruin your week. Everyone has slip-ups at times, and no one is perfect. If one late assignment is what it takes for someone to understand the value of time management, let that be your motivation to find something that works for you during your college career.