Managing Your Time in College

September 23, 2020
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Starting college is a brand new experience for everybody; not everyone enters college with all the necessary skills or resources. The first year of college can bring us all many different emotions because it is a time where we learn so many things. As we are applying to college, we learn to fill out all these applications without our parents. With less help from teachers and counselors as a college student, time management is an essential skill that allows us to deal with a new life stage.

Time management is not something you are born with, so do not feel bad if you are not good at it! This skill can also take time to develop because everyone has a different way of managing their time. As you grow and spend many years in college, you will learn what helps and what does not help. 

Well, How Should Time Be Managed?

Time management can be practiced by setting a schedule for yourself monthly, daily, or even hourly. It mostly depends on you and how you would like to plan out your work. Ask yourself what should be prioritized, what is due first, which is the most time consuming, which assignment will be the hardest, which assignment do I not want to do at all? Think about the time you have; when do you feel most tired and least likely to work? 

Maybe starting a big assignment right after your college algebra class is not the best idea if you feel drained from what you just learned. Perhaps it would be best if you took the time to clear your mind first and then go over what you just saw in class. This way, you do not lose that info for the next class and can start on your big assignment in a better headspace.

It’s also vital to eliminate any distractions while studying, no matter how good you are at multitasking. Distractions can include looking at emails, texts, or talking to your parents or friends about random things. Be intentional about using your study time for studying. 

What to Include in Your Schedule

How many tests/quizzes/finals do you have the week you’re scheduling? What kind of assignments are you working on (essays, projects, presentations, HW, discussion boards, etc.)? Don’t forget about this beautiful thing called a syllabus (the piece of paper that can be very valuable as a student). Take care of that, and try not to lose it! Professors will usually follow the syllabus as a way of life. You will never be surprised if you keep up with your syllabus and re-write the critical dates in a calendar of your own. I recommend keeping all your class syllabi in a folder or binder with you at all times. If a professor decides to change a date, you can see exactly what is going on and fix it in your personal calendar.

Helpful Materials:

  • Planner
  • Whiteboard
  • Website planner (you can customize and print it. POST IT EVERYWHERE!)
  • Syllabus (highlight, color code, scratch off past assignments, etc.)
  • Sticky notes, write yourself reminders, and put them where you will see them.

Stay Organized!!!

If your room, dorm, studio, or apartment is not organized, it’s okay. That’s not what I am talking about. One spot should be organized, though. If being organized is hard for you, I encourage you to have your desk or any study area you use clean and clear of distractions. If I am working over clutter, my mind is just as cluttered, so get that stuff out of the way and allow yourself to engage fully in concentration. 

Now that you have that situation under control, what I am really talking about is staying organized with your classes. Divide your time up by class. If you think you need more studying for college algebra than psychology, then include that in the schedule. Do you need tutoring for a class? Write that in your schedule and try to prepare yourself for that tutoring session the same way you would prepare for a class. 

Make It Your Space

  • Add a candle (if it’s allowed)
  • Have your fidget toys nearby
  • Make a to-do list before you can get away from the desk (write down your breaks as well)
  • Timer (not your phone)
  • A pencil cup with the materials you need 

What Could Hinder Your Time Management?

Many things can hinder our time management even if we plan our entire week out day by day. Social Media is one of the biggest distractions that interrupt us when we are in the zone of getting things done. Even though we get entertained and relive a little stress while scrolling through videos and photos, it takes up a lot of our time, and we don’t even notice it. Family and friends are another big distraction. Let them know when you will be busy and unavailable to hang out. Unfortunately, we can’t tell our phones not to bother us. (Well, we can, but that’s something we will have to listen to, and it will all depend on our self-control.) 

If you have low self-control, studying with a friend could be a good idea. You could give them your phone during study time. If you can’t study with a friend, turn off your phone and stick it in a drawer. When expecting an important call message or email, turn off your social media notifications and place it somewhere away from your view. Sometimes just checking one notification will have you falling into the trap of scrolling forever. Admit it to yourself it’s not something to be ashamed of. Everyone gets distracted by social media

Take Breaks!

You are working hard, so leave time in your schedule to fuel your body and relax. Whatever it is, you need to make time for your form of self-care. It is just as important as passing your classes. Self-care can be anything relaxing to you but try to keep your mind off school and work. Don’t worry about anything else but yourself. Reward yourself. You are doing great, working hard, and getting things done, so you deserve it! 

Break Options

  • 20 min-30min
  • Close your eyes and breath (set a timer you might fall asleep)
  • Go for a walk
  • Get a snack
  • Watch an episode of your favorite show (don’t watch a new show that will get you hooked)
  • Do a little exercise

What Motivates You?

What is the most important thing to you? Where do you see yourself after graduation? How are you going to get there? Find what motivates you and make it a part of your schedule. Think about how closer you are to your dreams and goals every day. Sometimes being in an English class has nothing to do with becoming an engineer but trying not to think about it that way. Think about how much closer you’re getting and what you’re gaining from this class. It might just be learning to cite and write in different styles, but it might be helpful when applying for an internship, job, or grad school.

There is no exact way to manage your time because everyone works differently but, figure out what works for you. Keep these things in mind, and remember not to take on more than you can handle. We are only human students and can only do so much!