Learn To Manage Your Time

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November 27th, 2013 by schoolbound

(This post was originally published on September 4, 2013 but with exams looming it is good to revisit)

Everyone at some point wishes they could have more hours in their day to finish all they needed to accomplish. Some days are so jam packed that the time flies by and you realize with sudden horror that you made barely a dent in your To-Do List. I know the feeling!

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Time management can be a beast, especially when you throw school and studying into the mix.  And it can stress you out too. If you are neck deep in a schedule of deadlines and assignments galore, here are a few tips that may help you get a handle on keeping the beast under control.

  1. Keep a Calendar: Whether this is on your phone, PDA, computer or paper it is essential to keep track of important dates and deadlines, schedule your study and down time, and even schedule meals and laundry etc. Adding the small and large things to your calendar will allow them to stay under control. Everyone has experienced putting off something like laundry too long and it becoming an enormous task that seems insurmountable. That is fine for laundry, but not so much for reading assignments! Schedule away, but be flexible and allow for life to happen too, which means giving yourself open blocks of time to swap out with study or busy times just in case that surprise lunch with friends pops up.
  2. Schedule down time: Do NOT study all the time. You will never retain everything you need to if you are overloading your brain with too much information. You need a balance of study and down time so you can recharge your batteries.
  3. Plan Ahead:  As far in advance as you can, plan out your semester. You may think you have it all in your head or will deal with things later or as they come up, but it is better to overkill than to forget something important. Once the semester starts it is easy to get distracted. Put everything you can think of on that calendar far in advance and you can always move it around.
  4. Organize:  Keep physical and/or computer folders of all your classes, together with notes and schedules. This way you are not wasting time searching around for notes and material when you need it. Post it notes and highlighters in various colors help too. Invent your own system! Pink for deadlines, yellow for reading assignments and so on.
  5. Go to class: Sometimes life can get in the way and you are tempted to finish a term paper for one class rather than attending another. Try not to do this. Going to class reinforces the material and gives you a review of what you (should have) read prior to the class so that when it comes time to study you are a step ahead and the material comes back easily. Better to prep for exams as a refresher than having to learn new material in a short time.
  6. Make Friends and share notes: It is always a great idea to look at someone else’s point of view from the same class, they may have written something down that is important that you missed.
  7. Focus on purpose not procedure: While you are in class, studying, reading, think about why you are learning this material and how it applies to you instead of just memorizing facts. If something is meaningful to you than it will sink in deeper.
  8. Keep a time log: Keep track of how long it takes you to do assignments for each class, prep for quizzes and tests, write papers etc. Knowing this can help you plan ahead and block off time on your calendar accordingly, adjusting your study plan as time progresses.
  9. Prioritize your coursework: Evaluate your classes, which ones are easy for you, harder, more time consuming etc. Work on the things that are most important to you, come more easily for you or impact your grade first, and work on the classes that require more effort on your part when you have more time blocked off to devote to them.
  10. Write EVERYTHING down. Especially while you are thinking about it. Better to cross off or delete than not remember something.
  11. Effective Testing: When taking a test read through all the questions first and answer the ones you know easily right away, or the ones that get you the most points toward your grade. Then once you have read through and checked off the easier ones, go back and spend more time on the harder ones. Sometimes the harder answers can be jogged from memory by easier or later questions too.
  12. Tech it up: If you are a computer geek consider using an app like Priority Matrix or another organizational productivity app. Some cool apps can help keep you organized and set reminders, help you note take and search by keywords to make research and study easy.