Developing time management skills is a journey
that may begin with this Guide, but needs practice and other guidance along the
One goal is to help yourself become aware of how you use your time
as one resource in organizing, prioritizing, and succeeding in your studies
in the context of competing activities of friends, work, family, etc.
First: try our exercise in time management:
How do you spend your time each day?
Strategies on using time:
These applications of time management have proven to be effective as good study habits.
As we go through each strategy, jot down an idea of what each will look like for
Blocks of study time and breaks
As your school term begins and your course schedule is set, develop and plan
for, blocks of study time in a typical week. Blocks ideally are around 50
minutes, but perhaps you become restless after only 30 minutes? Some difficult
material may require more frequent breaks. Shorten your study blocks if
necessary-but don't forget to return to the task at hand! What you do during
your break should give you an opportunity to have a snack, relax, or otherwise
refresh or re-energize yourself. For example, place blocks of time when you are
most productive: are you a morning person or a night owl?
Jot down one best time block you can study. How long is it? What makes for a
good break for you? Can you control the activity and return to your studies?
Dedicated study spaces
Determine a place free from distraction (no cell phone or text messaging!) where
you can maximize your concentration and be free of the distractions that friends
or hobbies can bring! You should also have a back-up space that you can escape
to, like the library, departmental study center, even a coffee shop where you
can be anonymous. A change of venue may also bring extra resources.
What is the best study space you can think of? What is another?
Weekly reviews and updates are also an important strategy. Each week, like a
Sunday night, review your assignments, your notes, your calendar. Be mindful
that as deadlines and exams approach, your weekly routine must adapt to them!
What is the best time in a week you can review?
Prioritize your assignments
When studying, get in the habit of beginning with the most difficult subject or
task. You'll be fresh, and have more energy to take them on when you are at your
best. For more difficult courses of study, try to be flexible: for example,
build in reaction time when you can get feedback on assignments before they are
What subject has always caused you problems?
Achieve "stage one"–get something done!
The Chinese adage of the longest journey starting with a single step has a
couple of meanings: First, you launch the project! Second, by starting, you may
realize that there are some things you have not planned for in your process.
Details of an assignment are not always evident until you begin the assignment.
Another adage is that "perfection is the enemy of good", especially when it
prevents you from starting! Given that you build in review, roughly draft your
idea and get going! You will have time to edit and develop later.
George Pattison loves to help people get their work done fast. He has some
time management tips to
spare in his website!
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