Adult Students Tips for Organizing your Time

Assignments blow my time away.
I have no chance to work or play!
Turn back the clock today, I pray;
I need more hours in my day!

Going back to school? It was hard enough the first time. Adults returning to education face a few more challenges than our younger counterparts. Real-life responsibilities, such as careers and families, force us to budget our time wisely. It’s a good thing we grownups have all that added maturity to help us cope!

How can we keep all those plates spinning in the air at once? Here are a few tips:

1. Stop the Stresses! Pick your worries carefully. Deadlines, demands, and daily life can work us into a lather, if we let them.

2. Practice Priorities. As you plot out your day, try to differentiate between what is urgent and what is truly important. Choose your plan of attack accordingly.

3. Secure a Studying Spot. It can be nearly impossible to do homework at home. The entire household (and the house itself) may clamor for your attention. Why not pack it all up and head for the library, a borrowed office, or another private spot? I have even written term papers in my parked car, just because it was quiet and private.

4. Tally Time-sheets. Think of your schoolwork, paid work, and housework as if they were all client accounts. Budget your time in 15- or 30-minute chunks. (Even sorting the mail qualifies for this.)

5. Clean Up Clutter. Keep your desk clear. Post syllabi and assignment sheets on corkboard over your desk with your calendar, so you can keep track of due dates. File away anything that’s not current.

6. Turn Off the TV. If you need background noise to work, then switch on some tunes. Nuff said.

7. Employ E-mail. Whenever you can type instead of dialing, you will save yourself tons of time.

8. Value Voice-Mail. When deadlines loom, don’t pick up the phone. Screen your calls. Many people will leave messages, so you won’t even have to return the call. (You can have lengthy conversations during the mid-term break or after final exams!)

9. Depend on Your Daytimer. Keep rosters of everything you must accomplish in a given day. List errands, phone calls, even groceries. Check off each item when you have completed it. (This is a wonderful stress-buster. You will feel less ticked-off, when you can tick things off your lists!)

10. Eschew Excuses. Avoid the trap of asking for extensions on assignments. Sure, you may have legitimate reasons for late work, but those projects can quickly pile up!

11. Be Good With Boundaries. Don’t be devoured by requests for volunteers. Find other ways to pitch in at your school, church, neighborhood, or other area.

12. Accept for Assistance. Do you have reliable, helpful people in your life? Often, we turn down offers for help. If your trusted neighbor offers to drive the kids this week, while your paper is due, why not let him? When your workload lightens, you can find a way to return the favor.

13. Leave Time for Leisure. Budget for this. Take a 15-minute power nap, if you need it. Allot 15 minutes to walk the dog around the block. You will actually accomplish more when you are ON, if you spend a few moments OFF.

14. Reject Remorse. Remember: This is just a season in your life. Before long, you will have earned the degree you seek, and you will return to real life again. After graduation, you will be available again for all those things you passed on, during your schooling.

15. Remember Your Reasons. From time to time, remind yourself why you have returned to school. What will you do with your newfound qualifications? Perhaps you are advancing your career or broadening your professional capabilities. Maybe you are equipping yourself to support your loved ones. Step back and revisit this perspective, and you may reenergize yourself!