Time Management

"If you love life, then you must love time, for that's the stuff life’s made of."

Henry David Thoreau

Quoted in Luckie & Wood, 1998

College students often juggle school, work and family obligations. Time management can help you accomplish more in less time. Know yourself and be realistic in planning your time schedules. Effective time management involves scheduling your time over a particular period - by the day, week, month, and quarter/semester. Each type of planning (day, week, month, and semester) has its own purpose. Daily and weekly planning help you organize for the short-term. Monthly and semester planning help you meet your long-term goals and obligations.  You don't need to run out and buy an elaborate and expensive day planner. All you need a working printer (with paper) attached to the computer you are using.

Planning a Successful Time Schedule

Here are some hints for planning a time schedule:

  • Balance activities i.e. family, friends, social events, sports, recreation, etc. There are many facets to college life and balance is important to success.
  • Allow enough study time for each subject. The common formula is two hours of study per week, per course credit. Multiply your credit load by two to get an idea of how much time you should spend studying.
  • Study at a regular time in a regular place. Knowing what and when you are going to study saves time.
  • Commit yourself to a specific task. For example, commit yourself to "complete the math assignment" that is due before the next class session.
  • Study as soon after your lecture as possible. Studying for one hour right after class is more effective than spending several hours days later. Review and organize your lecture notes while they are fresh in your mind.
  • Start assignments while your memory of the assignment is still accurate.
  • Utilize odd hours during the day for studying. The scattered one or two-hour free periods between classes are easily wasted. Using this time to review notes from a class just finished results in free time later in the week.
  • Limit your blocks of study time to two hours on any one course. Take a break. Then, if you still have time, study something else.
  • Trade time. Don't steal it. When unexpected events arise that use up study time, decide immediately when you can make up the missed study time. Adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Schedule time for review. A regular weekly period used to review your coursework helps keep you up to date. This review should be cumulative, covering all the work done thus far in the quarter. Such reviews reduce the need for "cramming" later.
  • Keep organized notes on lectures and assignments. Watch for key ideas in lectures and express them in your own words. Record exactly what assignments are made and when they are due.
  • Prioritize. Make a daily or weekly list of what needs to get done, from most important to least important.
  • Don't forget to schedule some time to relax.

When Schedules Go Haywire 

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Unforeseen events can throw off our carefully planned schedules. People get sick. Cars break down. Computers choose the absolute worst times to crash. Here are some strategies for dealing with the unexpected:

  • Don't panic. Try to remain calm and think rationally.
  • Make a list of priorities. Separate out items that have to be completed from those that can wait.
  • Try to "switch" or "rotate" things around so you can address your highest priorities.
  • Don't sacrifice yourself to your schedule. Remember to eat, sleep and relax. Getting stressed out won't help your concentration or performance.
  • If need be, talk to your instructors and employers. Most people are reasonable during extraordinary times and will try to accommodate you. However, use this strategy sparingly. Otherwise, you might not be taken seriously.