SurvivingScience

Time Management

"Today's greatest labor-saving device is tomorrow."
Tom Wilson, Universal Press Syndicate

If you scored well in time management on the self-assessment, then I offer you much kudos. You are already a step ahead. Time management is one of the single most important skills to master in life, much less in school. Contrary to what advertisers would like the consumer to believe, most expensive electronic contraptions and convenience products do not assist us in managing our time better. Time management requires discipline and prioritizing. The method you use is entirely up to you. Being organized does not negate creativity.

The only gadgets you really need are a watch, and a pocket calendar for writing everything down, because if it isn't written down, it doesn't happen. Included on this site is a Weekly Time Schedule sheet. Make copies of it, or create your own with a word processor, spreadsheet, or special calendar program. You need a new sheet for each week, because your life is not static (I hope). Fill it out initially according to the following plan:

  1. First, label all the constants, such as your classes, work (if it is the same every week), and travel time.
  2. Second, write down any appointments you have this week, extracurricular activities, etc.
  3. Third, fill in your planned study times.

Be very specific when filling out the schedule. For example, if your class meets from 10:10 to 11:05, don't just say 10 to 11. It is important in the early stages to account or all of your time, because the next step is assessing how much time you have available for studying. The general guideline when taking a science course is to allow two hours out-of-class time for every hour you are in class. For a 4-credit hour class, including 3 lecture hours and one 2-hour lab per week, that means 10 study hours per week. This sounds overwhelming, but it is necessary. Success will not come without outside preparation.

As you assess your available time, look for small chunks as well. A 15-minute block in between classes can be used efficiently. Be realistic when you plan your study time. If you know you are not going to wake up at 2 a.m. to study, don't put it on the schedule, even with the best intentions. You are only cheating yourself. Stick to the study times you plan.

It will take some time before you develop a schedule you are comfortable with. That's okay. Choose one day every week in which you sit down and work out next week's schedule. Changes will obviously occur, i.e. kid's soccer game, dentist appointment, family emergency, etc. will happen. Just roll with it.

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS

  • Have, maintain, and use a semester calendar to indicate when major projects will be due, exams will be given, and events will be held. Plan ahead to minimize the effect of "crunch" periods.
  • Keep and use a date book for appointments, meetings, classes, and errands.
  • Take time each week to overview what is coming up the next week so you can plan accordingly. Ask yourself, "What are my goals for the week?"
  • Maintain an ongoing list of things to do. Better yet, prioritize your "things to do" according to their importance.
  • Use small bits of time effectively. In fifteen minutes you can review, edit, and revise your notes from a recent lecture. Think about other ways to effectively use these small bits of time between classes and meetings. Ask yourself, "What is the best use of my time right now?"
  • Know what times of day are best for you mentally and physically. Use that information to help you plan your time.
  • Handle each piece of paper once. Stop shuffling paper from one pile to the next. Make a decision about what to do with the paper and do it.
  • Have a tough task to do? DO IT NOW. Don't procrastinate. If the task looks overwhelming, use the Swiss Cheese principle: Bite off small holes in that block.
  • Take time for you--exercise, cultural activities, relationships, and sleep. Stress will mount and the quality of life will plummet.
  • Learn to say, "NO!"

From Keene State College Aspire Program