For many bright young college students, high school wasn’t that difficult, and it was easy to coast along without expending much effort. The realization that college is significantly different and that the course load and requirements are much more rigorous is difficult to swallow. It isn’t likely that you can get good grades without expending a considerable effort and doing all of the required work for the course.
Rather than dwelling on how difficult the classes are or the quantities of work that you have to do, take the time to develop some better time management skills so that you use your time as efficiently as possible. Each student needs to figure out what works for them, but taking the time to do so will be a skill that will be useful throughout the entire college career.
Here are some important things to consider when learning to manage time properly.
*Get a portable calendar, date book or assignment book –
Having a portable calendar which lists the days of the week over two pages is a great way to keep yourself on top of the things you need to do. You can write the dates on which assignments are do and check things off as you finish them.
*Schedule blocks of time for studying –
When you schedule time for studying, you are making a commitment to study at that time, in the same way that you might make a commitment to be in class at a certain time. Scheduling time for studying gives you a structure that helps to keep you focused on your academic work and that helps to keep you from straying off course. Rather than trying to spend 8 hours studying for an exam the day before, carve out smaller blocks of time to study and take frequent breaks to keep yourself refreshed while you study.
The key to successful time management is knowing how to prioritize. This means learning to recognize that you may have to tackle something for a class you really don’t like before something you’d rather be doing simply because the thing you have to do for that class you don’t like is very hard for you. Tackling that unpleasant task now rather than later will ensure that you can and do get it done on time.
If you’ve got a bunch of reading to do, a test to study for and a paper to write, what is due or due to happen sooner? If you have a test in two days and you’ve got 100 pages of reading to do in the next three days, a smart move would be to dive into some of that reading and spend an hour or two on that and then go on to studying for the test.
*Don’t put things off –
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” This is one of the wisest sentences a college student can ever hear. Once you get into the habit of putting things off, it’s like a vicious cycle. You do it once, and it may feel uncomfortable at first, but putting things off thereafter will come to easily, and that’s almost a guarantee of failure.
If you have a huge book to read by next Monday, don’t leave the reading until Sunday night. Open the book today and read for an hour or two, and spend one or two hours at a time doing the reading. This way, you’ll avoid the burn out, retain what you read and be able to assimilate all of the information properly so you can be a good contributor to the class discussion.
*Go over assignments right away –
Instead of waiting until later – which may mean tomorrow or the next day to go over your syllabus or assignments, look them over right away. Figure out what you have to do and by when you must have things done. Then start plotting out what you will do when and write it down in your date book or assignment notebook. Check things off as you complete them.
*Don’t try to do it all at once –
Whenever a student tries to cram things into a small amount of time, they are putting a lot of pressure on themselves and setting themselves up for a very fast burn out. Rather than trying to cram for an exam the night before, or do all of the reading for the entire semester the week of finals, parcel your work out into manageable chunks.
If you have a class that requires substantial amounts of reading, figure out how much you have to read for the week. Divide the number of pages you have to read by the number of days you have to do it in. The result you get should give you an idea of how many pages you have to read each day in order to have all of the reading for that week done by the week’s end.
*Always prepare for your classes –
One thing that doesn’t seem to occur to college students is that if they always come to their classes prepared, the work load will be very manageable and the prospect of having to study for a test won’t seem so daunting. Moreover, if you have other work you have to do for a class, you can budget for that as well.
*Reward yourself for progress and successes –
Use a reward and punishment system for yourself. It may prove to be the very incentive you need to get your work done. If, for example, you get all of your studying done by Friday night, or have very little work to do over the weekend, then reward yourself by allowing yourself to go out on Friday or Saturday night.
If you don’t get your work done, then you can’t go out all weekend. Consider that the punishment. If going out over the weekend means enough to you, you will probably take the time to get your school work done.
Another thing that doesn’t occur to college students while they are in school is that the time management skills that they learn as a student are important skills that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives. What you learned for college can be reapplied to the working world or your home life. It will help you be more organized in every way, and that will result in a greater satisfaction with life in general.