Unlike high school where teachers frequently structured your assignments and classes filled your day, in college, you will have less in-class time, more outside-of-class work, and a great deal of freedom and flexibility. Studies show that poor use of time, not lack of intelligence, is the leading cause of poor academic performance. Students who don't succeed either invest too little time in their studies or invest their time in ineffective and outdated study strategies.
How to Manage Time and Set Priorities:
What Are the 3 Rules for Effective Time Management?
- Don't Create Impossible Situations. Don't get trapped into doing too much. Don't try to work full time and take a full load. Don't take too many lab classes. Use the time to create success, not failure. Be realistic about school. For most courses, plan to study 2 hours for every 1 hour of class. Make time your friend, not your enemy. Identify your first priority classes and do whatever it takes to succeed. Drop second priority classes or reduce work hours if necessary.
- Define Your Priorities Using the 3-List Method. All-time management begins with planning. Use lists to set priorities, plan activities and measure progress. One approach is the 3-list method.
List #1 - The weekly calendar.
Create a weekly calendar. Make it your basic time budgeting guide. List your courses, work, study time, recreation, meals, TV, relaxation, etc. Plan to study first priority classes when you work best. Be flexible, and adapt your schedule to changing needs. Keep your schedule handy and refer to it often. If it doesn't work, change it.
List #2 - The daily "Things to Do".
Write down all the things that you want to do today. Note homework due or tests or subjects you want to emphasize. Include shopping and personal calls, etc. This list is a reminder. Use it to set daily priorities and to reduce decision-making and worry. If time is tight, move items to your long-term list. Rewrite this list each morning. Use visualization to help you focus on what to do. This list is also a measure of your day-to-day success. Check off items as you finish them and praise yourself for each accomplishment.
List #3 - Goals
This can be one or two lists, a monthly list and or a long-term list. Put down your goals and the things you have to do. What do you want to accomplish over the next month or year? What do you need to buy? Use this list to keep track of all your commitments. If you're worried about something, put it on this list. The purpose of this list is to develop long-term goals and to free your mind to concentrate on today.
- Avoid Distractions and Lack of Focus.
Time is precious. Yet many people waste time by getting stuck in one or more of the following habits.
a. Procrastination - putting off important jobs.
b. Crises management - being overwhelmed by the current crisis. No time for routine matters.
c. Switching and floundering - lack of concentration and focus on one job.
d. Television, telephones, and friends - are all ways of avoiding work.
e. Emotional blocks - boredom, daydreaming, stress, guilt, anger, and frustration reduce concentration.
f. Sickness - getting sick and blowing your schedule.
In all of these cases, the first step is to recognize the problem and resolve to improve. Use priority lists to focus attention. Try positive self-talk. To avoid distractions, find a quiet place to study, the library, or a study hall. Get an answering machine.
Copyright 1991 Donald Martin, How to be a Successful Student
Articles and Books
Fixed Schedule Productivity - Study Hacks - A very busy MIT post-doc explains his system for getting things done.
The List is Life - Slate.com - Do you hate "To-Do" lists? Do you feel like they never help you do anything except make another list? This guy felt the same way. He has focused on keeping different lists for different priority levels and breaking clusters into tiny actions, which have worked well for students in the past.
A Procrastination Test to Uncover Procrastination Patterns - PsychologyToday.com - Take a free 20-question test on procrastination, know where you stand, then learn how to eliminate your procrastination hot spots.
Videos and Podcasts
Stop Procrastinating, Get More Done - bNet.com - If you've ever said, "I work better under pressure," listen to this podcast. Spend seven useful minutes and learn about procrastination
WebTools and Apps
Google Tasks - works with the University's new Google Apps service
OmniNote - $3 iPhone app
EverNote - multi-platform note-sharing software
Toodledo - free iPhone/web app
Action Method - for serious project managers
Rescue Time - no data entry time tracker/data analysis