Simple Time Management Tips for College Students
Most college students count down the days until Spring Break; overwhelmed by classes and assignments, it’s a chance to get away and recharge their batteries. Unfortunately, there are always a few students who procrastinated during the first few weeks of the semester and now realize their vacation days will be filled with books instead of beaches. If you are one of these students, it just might be time to reevaluate your current study system and implement some new habits for the second half of the semester. College is a lot like life in the real world; you have people demanding your time and attention, and it never feels like there are enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. The sooner you devise a plan to handle it all, the sooner you’ll find some peace of mind. It’s really not that complicated, you just need to follow a few of these simple time management tips.
1. Plan Ahead
Forget about those ancient paper calendars and purse planners; instead, download one of the many free smartphone applications (app) that will help organize your schedule and classes. Some of the better ones on the market include: Studious, Wunderlist, myHomework Student Planner, and Assignment Planner. You take your phone with your everywhere, so this makes it easy to add, remove and review everything on your to-do list. Some of the apps even allow you to share your schedule with other people, so you can sync-up your study sessions and group project meetings with ease.
If you are a visual person, you can still incorporate some traditional calendars and planners into your scheduling system, too. Be sure to place reminders in areas you frequent, such as the restroom, kitchen area, bed or near your desk. The more, the merrier!
2. Don’t Overschedule Yourself
It’s so easy for you to take on way too much your first year at college, but resist the urge to do everything! Try to stay between four or five classes a semester (each class typically accounts for a minimum of two to three hours of study time per week) to ensure you have enough time to complete your assignments. You should also limit your campus involvement to a few activities a week. Joining one or two campus clubs, playing sports and socializing during the evenings can really fill up your calendar, so know your limits and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ every now and then. Too many classes or too much socializing can really throw off your schedule and leave you scrambling to catch up.
3. Eliminate Distractions
When it comes time to actually study or work on projects, remove distractions from your immediate area. Turn off your phone and the television, wear ear plugs and place a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door. Better yet, remove yourself from locations with heavy traffic, such as your dorm room or the cafeteria, and find a quiet area to concentrate. Some students find music helpful during study sessions, but if you plan on writing, be aware that it can actually hinder your work.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
If you are staying up all night to cram for an exam, you may be doing more harm than good; your brain functions more effectively when it has at least six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you find you are having trouble focusing on the task at hand or falling asleep during your classes, consider taking a power nap (15 to 20 minutes) to recharge your energy. Getting a plenty of sleep is one of the most important things you can do to stay on top of everything.
5. Ask for Help
Before things get out of hand, or your grades are too far gone, ask for help. Stop by your professor’s office and discuss options for improving your grades. He/she may be able to guide you to some additional resources that may help you or provide valuable feedback on your assignments. Don’t forget to check out your school’s tutor lab or ask a fellow classmate for some help, as well. If you find that outside activities or other commitments are taking too much of your time, ask someone else to take over some of your duties until you can get back on track.
It’s important to remember that even the best plans can go awry, especially on a college campus. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to alter course, if needed. One of the easiest ways to stay on track is to attend ALL your classes. Don’t add to your stress by blowing off a class to hang out with your friends; it’s definitely not worth it. Also, give yourself a break every now and then. If you find your attention is waning and you can’t focus, get out and take a walk or head to the gym. Your body will love the exercise and your mind will benefit from it, as well. It may seem like all of your friends are out having fun while you hit the books, but when you graduate a year or two ahead of them, you’ll be thankful that you stayed on course.