- What is time management?
- What can you expect if you manage your time effectively?
- What makes it so hard for you to implement effective time management strategies?
- How can you improve your time management?
- How can you organize your agenda more effectively?
- What are the guidelines for good time management?
- How to overcome procrastination?
A few reasons why you should care about time management
You find yourself wishing for more free time…
You always feel busy, you miss meals and sleep…
You forget the dates of your tests and assignments…
You often put off starting an assignment and find something “better” to do…
Does this sound like you? If you want to increase your productivity, improve your concentration, and actually get more free time, time management is the key!
Let us get you started on better managing your time
The following tips and information can help you better organize your time. Here are some of the topics:
Simply put, time management is a way to balance your hours of rest, work and leisure. Whether you realize it or not, you’re always making time management decisions. Every day, you decide when to sleep in, go to class, study, go to the library, go to the gym or chat online. And these decisions play a role in your personal time management strategies.
Better time management can lead to improved concentration, better overall organization, higher grades and, most importantly, it will reduce your level of stress. By organizing your time more effectively, you will find the right balance between your leisure, rest and study time. On top of that, you will feel happier.
Managing your time effectively is never an easy task. As a student, you have many new responsibilities and priorities, all of which compete for your time and attention.
Your adaptation to university life comes with important changes to your time management plan. These changes include:
- Increased independent learning;
- New sports, student associations and meetings to attend;
- New friends and new experiences;
- More autonomous decisions to make with less input from your parents or siblings;
- Increased responsibility in grocery shopping, planning and preparing your meals, doing laundry, cleaning house, paying your bills, etc.;
- Working part-time to help pay for your studies or housing.
Planning is the key . As much as you hate to admit it, making lists of things to do, taking the time to think and plan for the next day, the next week, the next month, is critical in taking control of your own time.
A few tips to get you started:
- Keep a calendar, date book or computerized agenda.
- Write down important academic dates (i.e. last day to add a course, last day to drop a course, mid-term and final exam dates, assignment due dates, end of classes, study breaks, etc.). For information please visit the University’s academic calendar.
- Mark down dates for personal or social activities (i.e. travel times, sporting tournaments, theatre performances, doctor’s appointments, etc.).
What percentage of managers answered yes to the following question: “Do you consider your agenda (paper, PDA or computer program format) indispensable to managing your time?”
Once you have added to your agenda major dates and commitments, it’s time to include your other, more regular activities. You can divide your activities in the following four categories:
- Fixed academic/professional activities
- Labs/discussion groups
- Work placements (co-op or volunteer work)
- Fixed social/personal activities
- Travel dates
- Exercise (training, aerobic classes, sports)
- Variable academic/professional activities
- Study groups
- Project group meetings
- Study and homework periods
- Variable social/personal activities
- Outings with friends and family
- Shows, museums, theatre…
- Walks, phone calls…
Organize your weekly schedule starting with the fixed activities; then add the variable activities. Remember that school and work are important, but putting aside enough time for all your activities is the balance you’re looking for in life.
The goal is not to fill your entire schedule but rather to make sure that the things that need to get done, actually are done.
Here are some general rules of good time management:
- Get enough sleep: between 7 - 8 hours a night. Try to plan all your activities between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.
- Every week should contain the four types of activities.
- Schedule at least 20 hours a week for studying (on top of the minimum 15 hours you spend in class as a full-time student).
- Plan up to a maximum of 10 hours of school work in one day.
- Plan up to a maximum of five hours of work in the same subject per day.
- Change subjects regularly if you put aside an entire morning or afternoon to study.
- Allow time for breaks.
- Occasionally plan a whole day without any school work.
- Be realistic! An overflowing schedule is discouraging and inefficient.
Here are some tips to help you stick to your schedule:
- Make a schedule that suits the rhythm of your life and work.
- Be flexible and adapt to changing situations.
- Learn how to say NO (you can refuse to go out before an exam or take on more optional commitments).
- Ask your friends to respect your schedule and make them understand that they can’t always keep on calling or seeing you while you’re studying.
- Isolate yourself to work efficiently: close your door and avoid answering the phone, checking your e-mail and messaging.
Procrastination is the act of putting off what you should and most likely could do today. Let’s face it: procrastination leads to bad study habits.
By using an agenda, you will know exactly the number of activities you can fit in a day’s time and you will quickly find out that putting off any assignments or research projects just won’t help you in the end.
A few tips to fight the temptation of procrastinating:
- Start small and early: Starting a project as soon as you get it is best but not always possible. Try breaking down your projects into more manageable activities and start as early as possible. Start small: choose your topic, write a plan, create your template, create sections and subheadings, write down your major ideas on a given subject, etc. These small steps will start you thinking about your assigned work and make it less overwhelming the next time you sit down to do more.
- Work without distractions: Turn off your computer's instant messaging programs such as Facebook Messenger, Facetime, Skype, Twitter, BBM or whatever else keeps your attention away from your work.
- If it helps you, listen to music to keep you on track and focused. Create a playlist with plenty of songs and try to work through the entire list.
- Change subjects regularly: Changing your focus can actually be more productive and keep you from becoming bored.
Back to Study Skills to find other helpful guides.