Every student wants to get the best results with the least possible effort, therefore time management should be the ideal solution. Work smarter and not harder. Time management is a skill, which will not only improve your grades, improve the quality of your work and help you reach your goals in school and in personal life, but also leave more time to do the things that you are really interested in. Time is one of the most valuable and scarce resource out there:
- No matter how much money you would have at your disposal, time can’t be bought
- Unless you are some Marvel superhero with mutant powers, you can’t turn back time
- It is not like money on your bank account, left over free time can’t be saved and added to today’s
As a student, there is always too much to do and too little time to do it. Expectations from work, school and social life mean that important assignments are left for the night before the deadline or worse, not handed in at all. You are not in this alone, many other students are burning the candle at both ends. As a result you will:
- Feel stressed and overpowered by time shortage
- Study at moments when you are not at your most productive
- Postpone on that oh-so important assignment by cleaning your room, watching cat videos on YouTube or walking a thousand times to get some coffee. After all, how can you work without coffee??
- Miss the deadline for an assignment or deliver a crappy piece of work
- And lastly, the notorious all-nighter before an exam
If you recognize yourself in the above mentioned points, then the following might help you out to ditch those habits.
Step 1: Get a general impression of all the tasks awaiting you
One of the obvious and first things that you need as a student is an academic planner, although not everyone sees the importance of having one. Get one! and write down:
- Each assignment and assessment due date
- Exam dates
- Other social demands that you need to full-fill, such as birthdays, family meetings, or sports activities.
This way you will clearly see when the most intense period will be and you can work ahead, so when they do arrive you don’t have to do everything at once. Break down big projects/assignments into smaller tasks.
Academic planners are easy to download for free. No worries there about your student budget.
Step 2: Write a to-do list
With so many obligations and demands from school, work and social life, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. Writing down a to-do list will get the thoughts about them out of your head and reduce your stress. Before writing down your to-do list, it is important to keep in mind that the to-do list should be specific. Something like “Read textbook” is not good enough. Instead it would be better to write “Read chapter 3 for 45 minutes”. Just follow the SMART TIPS: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely, take a break, invigorate yourself, plan your study space, and set priorities.
Step 3: Make a weekly plan
Using a weekly plan will make all-nighters unnecessary. Unlike a long term plan, the weekly plan gives a detailed overview of people’s short term goals and it is easier to plan, since there are always unexpected events that might need your time. It will reduce your stress, improve your grades and the quality of your work. Moreover, it is a skill that is truly valued by future employers.
Step 4: Actually follow the plan!
Now this is the difficult part for a lot of students, actually doing what you wrote down you would. Watch out for the pitfalls:
- Procrastination. Facebook and the internet are the most popular ways of procrastination. But even doing the dishes can be used to avoid working on what is important. Don’t become one of the 80% of students that procrastinate on important assignments!
- Lack of focus. Distractions, distractions everywhere! TV, series, movies, games etc. will all in the end result to less time spent on an assignment/homework/exam study. Of course you are allowed to take a 10 minute break after 50 minutes of studying, but do not surpass them. Watching a 3 hour movie is not a valid break!! Identify your distractions and set goals to reduce them.
- Bad prioritisation. Do the most important things of the day first.
Step 5: Improve your Study Techniques
Neither all-nighters the day before or becoming one with the desk by studying 12 hours straight are effective and efficient ways of studying. The right balance involves reading, attending lectures, actively participating during a semester and putting information into your own words. Only then will the new information be memorized for the long-term.
All you need to do now is to make your own time management plan and start on your path to success.