Time management – the bane of everyone’s existence. I know, at least for me, that at the end of every day I have never accomplished everything I intended to do. There are those productive days where I get quite a lot done. But then there are those other days where time escapes me. Before I know it, it’s already time to go to bed when there is still so much to do. I find it to be quite a problem, but I have had to learn at least some techniques of time management while in college. Otherwise, there is no way I would be able to get all my assignments and studying done on top of my extracurricular activities. Here are some things that I have either done or at least tried in the past to better manage the waking hours.
Work and Reward. This technique is the one that works the best for me. I figure out which assignments and studying absolutely need to be done that day and I work on it for a bit. After I have made some progress, I allow myself some kind of reward. Usually this consists of watching a few episodes of a TV show, reading a book for fun or playing the piano. Or if I am too tired for anything else, I take a short nap. Then I go back to work and the cycle repeats.
Set Amount of Time for Relaxation. Sometimes the technique above does not work when I get home from classes already super exhausted. So instead I give myself a certain amount of time when I can do whatever I want. Then when that time has elapsed, I should be relaxed enough to start on some homework. I use this technique most often on the weekends. That way I have a little buffer between my school week and the weekend, but I still get at least something done before the next school week starts.
Time of Day. I have also noticed that most people have a certain time of day when they work better than at other times. For a while, I thought I worked better at night. That was probably just residual habits from my high school years, but I have come to realize I actually can get more done during the day. By the time nine or ten o’clock at night comes around, my mind starts wandering and all I want to do is relax before going to bed. Because of this, I have started trying to get more work done before that time. While it doesn’t always work out, if I start out with the goal in mind to stop homework at ten, I can sometimes get enough done to actually give it a rest by midnight. It sure beats staying up until three or four in the morning trying to finish an assignment!
Pace my Assignments. During my first two years in college, I could usually get an entire homework assignment done in one sitting; the biggest problem was getting myself to just start on it. But now I notice as my classes get harder, I cannot do this anymore. So I am learning how to pace my assignments – do a few problems here, another few there. That way when it is the night before the assignment is due, I either already have it done or I at least have most of the assignment done and it is not nearly as much of a time crunch to finish it on time. I am still not very good at this one, and I wish I had figured it out earlier in college when my assignments were easier. When I finally get it down, it will reduce my stress level immensely, so I definitely recommend trying this strategy out.
Learning how to manage my time effectively is the only reason I am doing well in college. Without time management, I would wind up with three assignments all due the next day and with no hope of getting all of them done. Doing that once or twice would probably not kill your grade. Doing it all the time, however, will eventually take its toll, especially as you get into higher level classes. The main point of this is to figure out what works best for you and stick with it. The work and reward method works best for me in most cases because if I get home and immediately start working on something, I generally do not have time to get distracted by something else. Of course, it does not always work like this. Like I said, this is how it plays out on my productive days. On my less productive days, I tend to have a hard time following any sort of time management regime I have tried to set up for myself. When this is the case, my advice is to forgive yourself and try to do better tomorrow. There is not a lot of good in beating yourself up about it too much because poor time management happens to everyone. Keep at it and always keep your hopefully not-too-distant goal of graduating in mind – that is what keeps me going, at any rate!