Time Management Tips
Managing your time wisely is important for any student. But when you’re an adult, having proper time management skills is even more critical as you have commitments to your work and family in addition to your schooling. Not budgeting your time correctly can negatively impact your academic, professional and personal life. This can result in you feeling anxious, frustrated and guilty. If you’re getting an online degree or even just enrolled is some online courses or a distance learning program, having good time management skills is particularly important for you to succeed. By honing your time management techniques, you can reduce anxiety, feel prepared for class, tests and exams and get those straight A’s that you want.
When you have returned to school and are looking to give yourself a crash course in time management training, the best place to start is to examine how you currently use your time. Take a look at your life schedule right now and figure out how much time you devote everyday to your various activities. Don’t forget to take into account the time you spend sleeping, eating and grooming.
If it helps, write down and account for every hour of your day. Then add up the hours and multiply them by seven to get an idea of how much time you spend each week on these activities and how much time you have free. Next, subtract this total amount from 168 (the number of hours in a week); your total is how much time you leave yourself to study.
Now that you can see how many hours a week you have free for studying, find out if it is enough. Just how many hours per week you should be studying will depend on the classes you are taking. Sort your classes according to whether you find them easy, average or difficult. For every hour that you spend in an easy class, you can expect to study two hours outside of class. For average classes, count on three hours per every hour in class and for difficult classes schedule four hours for every hour you spend in class. This means that your two-hour Beginners Painter class probably won’t need more than four hours of studying time. Your three-hour Advanced Astrophysics class, on the other hand, will require you to set aside 12 hours every week for studying.
Time Management Skills
Once you know how much time you will need to set aside every week to study for your classes, you can begin setting up a time management system. First, find a time organizer that works for you. A large wipe board, index cards, a day timer, a monthly calendar or even time management software are just some of the many time management tools you can use to get organized. When your ideal organizer has been found, it is time to start scheduling your activities, including studying. If you are able to do so, blocking off chunks of time to study is often best.
When you have your time management system set-up, it is important to start identifying your priorities. By prioritizing tasks, you will be able to get more done and have it all done on time. Many people find that creating a To-Do list is useful, particularly if there is a lot to get done. Writing a list will help you avoid forgetting important dates and tasks. To-Do lists can be drawn up daily or weekly.
Some find it useful to create an ABC list. Tasks that must be completed today get noted under the ‘A’ column while those that should be done this week are listed under ‘B’. Items that need to be looked after this month go under ‘C’. As your progress through the list and your priorities shift, items from column ‘B’ get moved to ‘A’, ‘C’ items go to ‘B’ and a new ‘C’ list is created. These time management sheets can also be created using colors, like red, yellow and green, instead of letters.
Others find using a monthly calendar to write out all the assignments and priorities for the month makes it easier to see at a glance what needs to be done. Using a calendar will also allow you to write down the due dates of your assignments and other important events. Using a different colored ink to mark these dates will help them stand out more, letting you quickly see what is coming up.
To have effective time management skills, it is important to spend some time everyday, either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, to plan and organize your day. Use this time to see which tasks from your To-Do list you can cross off and what needs to be added. As you plan your day, be sure to take into account just when you work best. If you are a morning person, then try to schedule your studying for earlier in the day. Night owls may benefit from studying once the sun goes down while those late afternoon bloomers will want to hit the books before dinner.
Time Management Techniques
Time management isn’t just about knowing when to study and creating lists. Making the most of your study time also requires a proper time management action plan. Keep these time management tips in mind when you’re studying.
- Set Realistic Goals: Trying to accomplish too much can a cause a task to seem overwhelming. This can lead to avoidance and procrastination. When setting daily goals, make note of what absolutely must get done today and focus on these tasks. Its much easier to add more tasks if you find yourself with some free time than finding the time for those things you didn’t get done.
- Learn to Say No: Many people have a hard time saying no, whether it is to a spouse, boss, family or friends. Remember that you cannot commit to every social event or project at work. When you have set aside time for studying, stick to your schedule and hit those books!
- Be Flexible: Interruptions and distractions are inevitable, especially if you have young kids in the house. Try to leave some space in your daily schedule so that if you are distracted, you won’t be significantly set back.
- Stay Focused: If you find yourself getting off track and having a hard time finding your way back, ask yourself these two questions: "What am I avoiding?" and "What is the best way for me to spend my time right now?" Your answers should help you figure out just what you need to focus on.
- Multi-Task: Finding ways to multi-task and combine activities can really help you accomplish more in your day without really trying. For example, if you take a bus or train to work or school, use that time to review your notes or listen to a lecture that you taped. Take your class readings along with you to the gym and read while you run on the treadmill or cycle on a stationary bike.
- Don’t Procrastinate: When a big assignment or project comes up that seems overwhelming, it is easy to avoid doing it. However, this can lead to problems later on as you scramble to get everything done. Instead of putting it off, try doing just a little at time. This may mean that you read Act I of Romeo and Juliet rather than the entire play in one evening or that you work on your essay for two hours instead of all night. Alternatively, you may find it best to tackle the hardest part of a project right away so that you get it out of the way.
- Hire Help: Finding some quiet time to study when you have children can be difficult. If it’s possible, arrange for your partner or another family member to watch the children for a set time every night or week so that you can get the peace you need. If that’s not possible, then consider hiring a baby-sitter or placing your children in daycare for a few hours so you can focus on your studies.
- Sleep: While it’s not unusual to stay up late once in a while to finish a big project, regularly skimping on your beauty rest can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. This can make it harder to get through your day and cause your studies to suffer. Following your time management schedule should help you get the eight hours of sleep you need every night.