Time Management Principles

Time management woman juggling clocks

Managing Your Time and Study Environment

Time Management

Most students find that their greatest challenge in adjusting to college life and to succeeding in the classroom is in managing their time effectively. This is especially true for community college students who often work long hours. Adult students deal with the additional issues of child care and family and home responsibilities.

When evaluating your schedule or how you spend your time, you also need to consider your goals and priorities. What is most important in your life, right now-- your family, friends, school, hobbies, or other activities? As you look at how you spend your time, ask yourself if this matches your priorities.

If you are finding it difficult to locate the time you need to study, or finding that there are conflicts among the various demands on your time, you may need to give greater consideration to your goals. By getting clear on your goals, it will be easier to decide how to spend your time. You'll find that you can more easily put off other things and set aside the time you need for studies if you know how it will help you to achieve your educational or career goals. Ask yourself:

  • Why are you in college?
  • What are your educational goals?
  • What are your career goals?

If you aren't clear on your goals, you may want to make an appointment and meet with the Career Counselor to evaluate your needs and to determine what courses you should take to reach your goals. In the Counseling and Career office, you can take various assessments and interact with computer programs that will help you to determine your career aptitudes and interests. There are also a number of resources you can use to read about different careers.

Set your priorities

  • Things you HAVE to do
  • Things you NEED to do
  • Things you WANT to do
    • Use a planning guide—buy one or make your own.
    • Schedule enough time for your Have-to-dos.
    • Divide large tasks into smaller parts and complete one part at a time.
    • Include time for family, friends and fun (not too much).

Learn to say NO. Let visitors and people who call know you are busy. Be polite but firm (Turn off your ringer, let voicemail take the call and turn off instant messenger).

  1. Minimize or eliminate distractions (Turn off the TV and loud music). Make your environment as conducive to working as possible.
  2. Schedule social time. Put it in your planner and do not let it overlap into your study time.
  3. Tackle hard subjects first. The feeling of achievement can give your day momentum.
  4. Break up tasks into smaller chunks.
  5. Work on tasks for 15-30 minutes at a time. Start with the easiest part of the task and build to the most difficult.
  6. Promise yourself a reward when the task is finished.
  7. Remind yourself how good it will feel when you have finished the project.
  8. Use waiting time such as time between classes to get work done.
  9. Don't cram. Give yourself time to study for your test in an organized way.
  10. Avoid perfectionism. Don't try to make everything you do perfect — Just do your best.
  11. Eat right and exercise. This will help you stay fit and alert.
  12. Make time for things you enjoy, friends and family.
  13. Don't over-commit. Commit yourself to only those activities you can manage in the time you have.
  14. Set deadlines to complete each assignment.
  15. Schedule a set time each week during the semester to review your weekly schedule and make adjustments as needed.

Time Management

Additional tips for Time Management and Academic Success

  1. Use a planner to organize assignments, due dates, deadlines and test dates.
  2. Identify "Best Time" for Studying: Everyone has high and low periods of attention and concentration. Are you a "morning person" or a "night person"? Use your power times to study; use the down times for routines such as laundry and errands.
  3. Study Difficult Subjects First: When you are fresh, you can process information more quickly and save time as a result.
  4. Use Distributed Learning and Practice: Study in shorter time blocks with short breaks between. This keeps you from getting fatigued and "wasting time." This type of studying is efficient because while you are taking a break, the brain is still processing the information.
  5. Make Sure the Surroundings are Conducive to Studying: This will allow you to reduce distractions which can "waste time." If there are times in the residence halls or your apartment when you know there will be noise and commotion, use that time for mindless tasks.
  6. Make Room for Entertainment and Relaxation: College is more than studying. You need to have a social life, yet, you need to have a balance in your life.
  7. Make Sure you Have Time to Sleep and Eat Properly: Sleep is often an activity (or lack of activity) that students use as their time management "bank." When they need a few extra hours for studying or socializing, they withdraw a few hours of sleep. Doing this makes the time they spend studying less effective because they will need a couple hours of clock time to get an hour of productive time. This is not a good way to manage yourself in relation to time.
  8. Try to Combine Activities: Use the "Twofer" concept. If you are spending time at the laundromat or doctor's office, bring your book to read or notes to study. Take advantage of any available time you have to study.