I’ve already given a couple of time management tips in my calendar post. But here are some other practices I’ve found helpful in managing my time in an efficient way.
Watch: Get one. I know, I know, it’s so old fashioned (at least until the Apple Watch comes out), but there’s something about having the time tick away in front of your eyes that makes you more conscious of time and the need to use it while you have it. Why not download a clock-face App to your computer that will allow you to see the hands swinging round – it seems to convey the passing of time better than digital numbers.
Plan: Don’t just plan class time but plan study time and exercise time too. Put everything in your calendar and treat it as an appointment you have to keep. Part of planning is trying to anticipate needs ahead of time so that you don’t have to rush around in a last-minute panic. Plan to use small time block of 20-30 minutes for small tasks like writing an email or making a phone call. Use bigger time blocks for bigger tasks.
Routine: God is a God of order and having made us in His image, we will thrive when we have orderly and regular lives. Although there are some unpredictables in student life, you should strive to make each week as much like any other. Get your body used to set study times and places so that its ready to roll when the time and environment cues kick in. The more rhythm you build into your life, the more you will thrive and flourish.
Review: Take 15 minutes at the end of each week, say Friday or Saturday evening, to review how the week went and to plan for the next week. Learn from what worked, and from what didn’t, and adjust accordingly. Take special note of anything unusual in the week ahead, like family and church obligations, or medical and dental appointments, and work out how you need to adjust your normal plans.
Divide: When you get dates for assignments, tests, and exams, work out how much time you have until the date and divide the work over the days and weeks available. Write out a study plan with the work you plan to have completed each week and check it off as you go. When you start worrying, you can look at the plan and see it’s reasonable and do-able, removing unnecessary stress.
Margin: Don’t cram everything in your calendar so that there is no room for the unexpected. Better lose ten minutes of study or exercise time than be constantly rushing trying to squeeze the last possible second of time out of life.
Limit: Work tends to expand to fill available time. For example, if you know you have four hours available to prepare for an exam or write a paper, you’d be best to set yourself a three hour target and leave yourself an hour to relax or socialize. It’s amazing how much can be done when you have to do it in a lesser time. This is especially true of something like email or social media. If you set strict time limits on these activities, you’ll get through a ton more emails and also use your social media time much better.
Focus: When you limit your time on any activity, you have to focus all the harder to make sure you get through the work. That means that you need to shut off distractions like the Internet, emails, messages, phone calls, etc., – you can use software blockers to help you.
Hide: Get away from places where people can tempt you to talk, have coffees, etc. You’ll have much more time for that, and with much less guilt, if you really focus on undistracted studying. In fact, you’ll be amazed how much time you end up with.
Single-tasking: Similar to previous point but worth emphasizing there is no such thing as multi-tasking, only multi-switching with every switch requiring ramp-up time.
Sleep: I’ll write a separate tip about sleep, but I’m sure you already know from painful experience that cutting down on sleep not only makes your studying less efficient, it also reduces retention of what is read.
Early: As the mind is much more impressionable and retentive early in the day when it’s not been crowded with stimuli and packed with useless information, the best study hours are usually first thing in the morning. Many find they can study twice as much twice as fast in the morning compared to the evening.
Exercise: Research has shown that exercise boosts cognitive function, creativity, problem solving and productivity. In fact a NASA study showed employees who exercised daily worked at 100% efficiency after 7 hours, while those who didn’t saw a 50% drop, meaning it took them twice as long to accomplish the same thing. So, exercise, in effect, creates time.”
Audit: In my Leadership class I have students perform the following exercise which you may want to adapt to invite input and develop accountability.
Log your time in 10-minute segments for weeks 3&4 of the semester. Analyze your use of time, and make suggestions about how you plan to improve. Find an accountability partner in the class, share your proposed time management plans, and evaluate one another’s performance over weeks 5-7. Submit a 5- page paper by the end of week 9 describing the lessons learned.
Memorize: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 3:15-16).
New Student Tip #1: Dropbox
New Student Tip #2: Wunderlist
New Student Tip #3: Evernote
New Student Tip #4: Diigo
New Student Tip #5: Lastpass
New Student Tip #6: Calendar
New Student Tip #7: Feedly
New Student Tip #8: Covenant Eyes
New Student Tip #9: The Why of Note-taking
New Student Tip #10: The How Of Note-taking
Time Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule–and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman
Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher
Thriving at College by Alex Chediak (for students)
Preparing Your Teens For College by Alex Chediak (for parents of students)
Top 10 Books for Students