Time Management

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Time:  it can control us, or we can control it. Time management is a topic in every discussion of student success. But, what is it?

Time management is really life management. It is using the 168 hours that make up every week of your life in ways that enhance productivity and minimize stress.  A key to time management is, simply put:  Plan your work; work your plan.

Before setting out a plan, your answers to these questions may help you see specifics to which you will need to pay attention:

  • Do I study only in my “spare time” or only when I am “in the mood”?
  • Do I have a specific study time set aside for each of my classes?
  • Do I know what time of day I am at my best for studying?
  • In my scheduled study times, do I set some time aside for regular review?
  • Do I know how many pages I can read in ten minutes?  (useful for planning study time blocks)
  • Do I set aside time for breaks? for exercise? for fun?

Your time management plan will not look like anyone else’s.  The important thing is to have a plan and to use it.  Here are some tools to get you started: 

Use this week by week guide  to write down important deadlines such as project or paper due dates, quizzes, and exams for the entire semester.

Using a week at a glance sheet will help you make time in your week for what matters. (This is an especially helpful tool for procrastinators.)  By seeing your week laid out in one place, you will see where your blocks of time exist for study and other not-set-in-stone activities.

Use a format of your choosing  to create a daily to-do list or try this one.  Creating a daily to-do list allows you to prioritize tasks so that the most important things are accomplished first.

A few words about planners:  Electronic or paper?  Which is more effective?  The answer depends on the person using the planner.  Putting calendar items into your phone or mobile device is great as long as you develop the habit of checking there. If you are a kinesthetic learner, you may find that the act of writing in a paper planner helps reinforce your schedule in your mind.  Again, the trick is to learn what works for you. It may take some trial and error to develop an effective system, but it is worth the effort.

Effective time management is a lifetime skill; college is a great place to learn and refine it.  For additional helps, check out the Study Skills Resources (“Improve Study Skills” folder) in the  USF Student Learning Community located in Blackboard or come visit us in the Student Success and Academic Advising Center, Pope John Paul II Center, Room 210.