Parents aren’t around to wake you or nag you about being late. There’s no “detention” for being late to class. In fact, most professors won’t even know if you’re absent or present. Social activities are numerous and unless you’re in a dorm with a curfew, you can dance the night away and sleep in when you feel like it. Of course, your newfound freedom can be very expensive short-term with slipping grades and long-term by keeping you from meeting your goals.
The key to effective time management is literally being your own boss. Instead of being accountable to teachers and parents, now you need to be accountable to you! One of the biggest stumbling blocks to time management is procrastination. However, the easiest way to avoid procrastination is to start by memorizing ten little two-letter words; “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Keep your long-term goals in sight. Map a plan to achieve your goals. You are here. What routes must you take to get to your destination?
Schedule everything you know about! Use a calendar to write down class times, work times, social events, and breaks. When up-coming events span beyond the current month, write them into empty calendar blocks.
Start tomorrow at the end of today. Plan each day starting with when you intend to get up. Use a to do list for daily activities. Put scheduled events into their appropriate time slots and prioritize the rest of your list.
Work your plan. Often it’s easy to stop a task and immediately deal with what we think is a small interruption. However, sometimes small interruptions snowball into big time consumers. Work your day according to your plan. If something new needs attention, wedge it into your schedule or if it is an immediate emergency, make sure you reschedule your current task. Also, be sure to mark your place. Write a note to yourself if need be.
Do the tough stuff first. Once, the worst part of a project is over, the rest will be a breeze! However, if the “tough stuff” is keeping you from getting started, then start with something easy to convince yourself that you can get the job done!
Break things down to the ridiculous. Dividing large assignments into smaller parts makes it easier to fit them into your schedule. In addition, you’ll benefit from a sense of accomplishment as you finish each phase. It’s a lot more satisfying to visualize what you have done than it is to agonize over what remains to do.
Rules were made to be bent. Build some flexibility into your schedule. Give yourself extra time to cope with interruptions in your schedule. As well as time to work, build in some time to play. Scheduling recreational activities and regarding them as important parts of your day gives you something to work towards.
There’s always tomorrow. Like any other skill, it takes time to learn how to manage your time. Even time management experts have days when their whole schedule falls apart. If yours does, don’t quit on time management. Instead, pick up the pieces and start again the next day. Review your schedules at the end of each week to see what did and what didn’t work for you. Build on your successes as you develop plans and time management strategies for following weeks.