Time management for university students is an issue that, right from the start, everyone at college has to deal with.
You’re thrust into a situation where, perhaps for the first time, the onus is really on you, and you alone, to make the most of all that time at your disposal.
There’s no one to nag you or hold your hand -- it’s all down to you.
How you decide to organize your time is entirely your choice.
You’ll stand or fall according to those choices and your ability to carry them out.
Read on if you want to:
Busting a Myth
Many students complain that they don’t have enough time.
The reality? There’s always enough time.
The amount of time and work you need to put in to graduate isn’t the issue. Your course can comfortably be completed in the time allocated for it, if you’re prepared to adopt the right mindset to succeed.
Being a student is your full time job. You're effectively self employed, and it’s going to take commitment, focus and sacrifice to achieve what you want.
Here are the three steps to take that will help you do that:
Step 1. Know what you want to achieve
Effective time management for university students starts with a focus on personal goal setting.
Once you’re clear about what you want to achieve, and by when, you can organize your time to make it happen.
Clarity of purpose is the starting point for successful time management for university students everywhere.
When you know what you want, focus your thoughts and actions on achieving it.
Step 2. Know what you have to do to achieve it
Once you're clear on what you want, you need to break down it down into smaller, deadline driven goals.
The specific dates your assignments are due dictate your plans for this term, this week and each day.
The longer the timescale, the more it tends to be about deadlines and schedules. That’s why it’s vital to see the big picture with a wall planner.
Knowing your term commitments means it's time to narrow down your focus to the coming week.
Planning your week will involve more details. Your lectures and tutorials can be added here, as can your regular weekly commitments.
Again, it’s helpful to it see all, so stick it on a wall you'll see frequently.
So the second step is to organize your time based around your term and your timetable.
Once you do that, you can see how much time is left with which to make the day to day choices that will determine your academic destiny.
Whichever time frame you’re thinking about, you can split it into four parts:
1.Scheduled work time
Lectures and tutorials that are timetabled into your week, plus travel time.
2.Unscheduled work time
Preparing and producing assignments -- what you put in here is up to you.
3.Scheduled free time
Clubs, societies and other activities you’re involved in on a regular basis.
4.Unscheduled free time
Whatever time is left in the week after the first three have had their piece of you!
Use your weekly planner to work out what time you have left after you’ve met all your scheduled commitments.
You’ve got 168 hours a week to play with...
Step 3. Choose what you’re going to do
Okay, we’re down to the nitty-gritty, day-to-day stuff here.
Successful time management for university students hinges on the quality of the choices you make each day.
In a sense, lectures and tutorials are easy. You don’t have to think about what to do -- you just need to organize yourself to turn up on time. The same goes for your scheduled free time commitments.
The real challenge is deciding what to do with the rest of your day.
How to choose what to do each day
Here's a simple system that will help you manage your time and workload on a day-to-day basis.
You’ll need to use a simple page-a-day notepad or diary.
Think of your current assignments as open loops. Every time you work on them you’re closer to 'closing the loop'.
When you're given a project or assignment, start working on it the following day. Write it on your will-do list under tomorrow's date.
Keep working on it every (working) day thereafter, until it's submitted, which should be well before the deadline.
Monday - Assignment set
Tuesday - Start working on it
Wednesday - Keep working
...and so on.
How much you do each day is less important than the fact that you actually do something daily.
Want to schedule regular days off? That's okay (in fact it's healthy to do so). If you miss a day for any other reason, don't beat yourself up -- jump back on track as soon as you can.
Obviously you'll have more than one assignment to work on. The idea is to 'do a little daily' on each of them.
You'll find you've created a list of daily tasks that are all relevant to your course.
As long as you do them, you get to choose how long you work on each one. You're working steadily from when as assignment is set, not cramming the day (and night) before it's due.
This will also help you work out what to do in your 'unscheduled work time' (see above diagram).
Successful time management for university students is about:
Try this way of working for a week and see if it works for you -- I think you'll be glad you did.
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Last week's TMS question results (Feb 20-26):
"When is it hardest to manage your time?"