It is the end of the day and you got nothing accomplished except for eating your meals. You have two tests this week and your roommate wants to talk about his recent break-up with his girlfriend. When you were in high school, it seemed easier to manage your time and your study blocks, but then you had the privacy of your room, and teachers and parents to keep you organized. Now, you have a roommate, more work than you imagined and facts and statistics bursting from your brain, none of which you will remember when test day rolls around.
Do not despair! With a little organization and some self-discipline, you can gain control of your schedule and your life and feel confident. Time management may sound boring but it will GIVE YOU more time to play, make you feel more motivated and less overwhelmed and eliminate frustrating cramming and anxiety. The first thing you need to do is to consider your goals. What do you want to accomplish during a given week or month? This will help you prioritize your time and stay on target. Then develop a schedule (WRITE IT DOWN) and put it on your dorm bulletin board or your laptop so you can check it when you need to know what comes next. Make the schedule flexible enough to include breaks, and schedule in some fun time, and some wiggle room in case an emergency arises and you have to juggle things around. That way you won’t blow your entire schedule wide open!
If you really need help putting your schedule in place, ask your Guidance or Student Services office if they have a primer or someone who can go over your schedule with you and make suggestions. The idea of time management is not to make you work 24 hrs a day. It is to help you balance your time so you will have time to learn, study, spend time with friends, play sports, and visit home.
The first thing you should understand is that it is better not to cram or study for hours at a stretch. Your mind will wander and you will be less productive. Schedule your study blocks in 45-60 min increments. The more complicated the material is, the shorter your study block will be. At the end of that time, take a break and stretch. Get a cup of coffee or go to the lounge. But stay on schedule. Go back and study for that next scheduled block so you can get it done.
You should also schedule a periodic ‘review’ block, where you go over things you have already studied and tie up loose ends and remind yourself of things you wanted to remember or things you found difficult. Do not try to squeeze this in around other things. Schedule the time for that ‘review’ and use it as you would any study block.
Prioritize your work so that you get the studying done FIRST for the first test of the week. And plan to work on the most difficult items first to get them out of the way. That way you will feel good about your accomplishments and have the incentive to continue working.
Find a few alternate places to study and rotate these locations. You can get in a rut if you always study in the same place with the same people. Mix it up a little, but always study someplace that is conducive to YOUR preferences (with or without noise, with or without other distractions, etc.)
Schedule your party time, fun activities and exercise and meals so that you get breaks when you need breaks. Don’t try to pull a marathon or you will be less productive. You will feel rewarded when you take your break, but you will also know that you are getting something accomplished when you study.
Don’t let other people manage your time. If someone comes to your dorm room and tempts you with an offer of a party down the hall, tell them you will be there later after you finish studying, or invite the person to YOUR party later in the week. It isn’t all work and no play, but there are times you have to resist the temptation to play and get the work done.
Write things down! Take notes, post reminders so you don’t forget to make that call or write the outline for that paper. If other projects come up, go back and look at your schedule and incorporate the project into the schedule to keep your organized.
With a little organization, and a calendar, or class planner, YOU CAN DO THIS!