25 Ways to Manage Your Time

  1. Create to do lists. Prioritize your tasks based upon their urgency and importance. Review your schedule and budget time for these items.
  2. Use a semester, monthly, weekly or daily planner. Identify fixed, routine, priority and free time in your calendar.
  3. Talk with living mates about study times and develop a routine. If you study in the same location and at the same time, the environment triggers your motivation, naturally reducing procrastination.
  4. Make academics a priority. If you keep falling behind, limit your other commitments, especially the number of hours you work off campus. Set boundaries with your friends. Instead of “I really should study,” say “You caught me in the middle of something important. I’ll call you later” or “I can’t go to the movies tonight, but I can go on Saturday.”
  5. Study two hours for every hour you are in class. Take advantage of wait time and the time between classes.
  6. Use technology for assistance. LeechBlock prevents you from accessing time wasting sites and StikK monitors your goals. Set up a Google Calendar with reminders and color coded events.
  7. Attend class. It will take you longer to get caught up and many professors include class attendance in your grade. Seeing and hearing the information helps you learn.
  8. Identify time stealers, such as Facebook and X-box. Use these activities as natural rewards after you have finished a task.
  9. Get involved. If you have too much free time in your schedule, you are more likely to think that you can do things later and procrastinate. Create pressure for yourself by adding other activities to your schedule.
  10. Stop multi-tasking and get organized. Focus on one task at a time. Save time by creating a system to organize class materials.
  11. Prevent interruptions. Turn off your cell phone and computer. Hide in the library if you have to.
  12. Recognize pseudo-studying. As you are studying, self-monitor yourself.  If you wouldn’t pay yourself for what you are doing, you probably aren’t being effective or efficient.
  13. Create an environment conducive to studying. Studying in your bed only triggers your brain to fall asleep. Ever notice that you learn the lyrics to a song without even trying? Our brains have auditory paths for learning. Turn off the television and music because it only competes with your studying.
  14. Avoid “student-lag.” You will create the equivalent of jet lag by keeping an inconsistent sleep schedule and disrupting your circadian rhythm. Wake up and go to bed at the same time.
  15. Create an energy plan. Maximize your efficiency and concentration by eating healthy. Exercise regularly and avoid caffeine. Study during your peak performance hours when you are most alert and tackle the most difficult task first.
  16. Take breaks. Try the 30-3-2 method. Study for 30 minutes and then take a three minute break. When you return, review the material for two minutes.
  17. Identify the source of your procrastination, which is often the result of perfectionism, fear of failure or fear of success. It is easier to accept that we failed because we didn’t try than it is to fail. These irrational beliefs, however, foster avoidance. Other times addictions or depression can prevent you from achieving your goals. Break the cycle by examining your beliefs and seeking help from the Student Success Center.
  18. Ask your friends for help. Ask them to hold you accountable and check-in with you. Study together.
  19. Just get started. Tolerate some discomfort even though the task is unpleasant or boring. Don’t wait until you feel like studying. Act as if you want to study and the feeling will follow.
  20. Seek help. Don’t prolong the inevitable. If you have been putting off an assignment because you are not sure about something, ask questions. Meet with the professor or a tutor.
  21. Use productive language. Instead of saying “I have to,” say “I chose to.” Instead of complaining about others, take action and problem solve. A victim mentality only decreases your motivation.
  22. Don’t lie to yourself. Do you really work best under pressure or are you just making excuses? Not only does the quality suffer when you procrastinate, but you make it harder for yourself. Instead of completing 25 percent of the project over four days, you force yourself to complete 100 percent in just one day. Examine the pros and cons of your delay tactics.
  23. Carefully estimate your time. We tend to underestimate the time it will take to complete a task, and overestimate the amount of free time we will have. What tasks or assignments have taken you longer than expected? What strategies have you used to more realistically assess how long a task will take? Break large, overwhelming projects into smaller tasks to feel less overwhelmed and to estimate more carefully the time needed for each component. For example, divide a 40 page chapter into 10 page sections. If you have a research paper due at the end of the semester, begin by locating your sources and creating an outline.
  24. Motivate yourself. Identify your purpose for studying and focus on learning instead of grades. Make the information meaningful and relevant. Remind yourself that intelligence is tied to effort and mistakes are positive because they facilitate growth. Remind yourself that intelligence is malleable and that mistakes facilitate growth. Identify the unpleasant consequences of NOT completing the task.
  25. Set goals. Goals should be specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely. Set deadlines and track your progress. Push yourself, but pursue balance. Life is a pizza. Academics are only one slice of your professional and personal development.