Time Management: Plan Well to Do Well

Managing and balancing your time can contribute to the difference between a 4.0 and 2.0 GPA. Simply stated, time management is the ability to successfully plan out your time in order to achieve your goals. With so much learning expected outside of the classroom, there are some general guidelines and time management tips that can help you plan well to do well. The more you can plan ahead, the easier it is to be accountable for your academic and well-being needs.

Use a Planner and Reminders

First, it’s always a good idea to use a digital or paper planner to account for activities and commitments that occur throughout the week. These may include:

  • Recurring classes and commitments
  • Time to study and complete assignments
  • Important project deadlines and exam dates
  • Time for meals, fitness, sleep
  • Down time to rest
  • Time for fun and social commitments

Writing down your activities and commitments can help you to develop a plan for your weekly routine and identify additional time for managing larger assignments or exams. If using a digital calendar, you can even set custom reminders weeks or days in advance.

Establish Goals

Second, establish and write out your short-term and long-term goals. Use these to help you generate study goals and a to-do list each week. This can help you prioritize which items are more important for your goals, which may need more time to complete, and which can be delayed until a later time or date.

Remember, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. If something is going to interfere with your goals, does not contribute to your priorities, detracts from time needed to complete a task or assignment, or simply adds stress to your schedule, say no, or simply no for this particular week.

Time Management Tips

Here are some other helpful time management tips to help you complete your assigned readings and tasks on time.

Break down larger tasks and assignments into smaller, more manageable chunks.

For example, if you have a paper due in three weeks, you could break it down into an outline, rough draft, editing time, and final draft and allot time for each piece.

Don’t skip class!

Missing class means more time needed to catch up on learning concepts which can therefore throw your entire schedule off. Unless you have a contagious illness or another valid health or well-being reason why you need to miss class, plan to be in attendance.

Identify your time “black holes.”

These are the things you do that consume a great deal of time without you knowing it.

  • One way to do so is to create a time log or use a time tracking app to track your time for a few days. Start by writing out how much time you would like to be spending on tasks like studying, sleep, exercise, down time etc and compare to what you actually did. Track your time, and then compare your actuals to your goals. Next, identify areas where you spend more time on items than you would like to. Use this information to adjust your schedule.
  • One common time black hole is the internet and social media use. According the Fall 2018 National College Health Assessment, almost 1 in 10 undergraduate students cited some academic disruption (such as receiving a lower grade on an exam, project or course) due to overuse of the internet.

Get real about procrastination.

There are many reasons people procrastinate and many tips to beat it.

Know your productivity and focus rhythms.

  • Learn when you are most and least productive. Schedule higher priority tasks during your most productive times when your focus is greater. Schedule downtime for when you are least productive. At least then, you can be productive at rejuvenation!
  • Eliminate distractions. Know where you are most productive and go there to do your work. If you are too distracted studying in the library, find another quiet place like a small lounge where you can be more productive.
  • Know how long you can focus before needing a break. Some people can sit down and study for three hours straight, while others struggle after 30 minutes. Be realistic and build in short breaks.