Time is of the essence. This holds particularly true for busy college students trying to stay on top of class schedules, deadlines, part-time jobs and their social lives.
Ineffective time management is often one reason why students’ grades drop in college, said Patrick Bohn, associate director of the Texas Tech Learning Center.
He leads a Programs for Academic Development and Retention class, which teaches study skills to students who fall under a certain grade point average in the previous semester, according to DailytoReador.com.
Bohn also said many students struggle with time management in college because they don’t know how to handle their newfound freedom.
“Because in high school, a parent or a guardian said, ‘At 3 o’clock, I pick you up, at 4 o’clock, you go to soccer practice. So, everything was scheduled,” he said.
“Now they get here, and all they really know is that they’ve signed up for classes, and they should be at those classes. But the rest of the time is completely open. So, a lot of students kind of overindulge in having so much free time that they have never had before.”
So how can students use their time wisely and still enjoy a well-rounded college life?
Here are some hacks to your daily routine that could save you some precious time.
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Organisation is key to effective time management. Think of how much precious time you can save if your notes and books are organised, and you don’t need to look up all your deadlines and appointments one by one.
While different methods of organisation work for different people, here are a few basic ideas to get you more organised:
Start every semester with a planner, and write down all your important assignment deadlines, exams, classes, activities, and so on so you can see them all at a glance.
At the beginning of the week, take a look at your schedule so you can effectively plan your time and know in advance what’s coming up, instead of remembering at the last minute.
Plan study sessions in advance so you can adjust your plans accordingly and make sure there are no conflicting engagements with the time you have allocated for your coursework.
Another handy tip is o separate your notes and textbooks by subject, and keep your workspace free of clutter. This way, when you need to study for a particular subject, you have everything you need in one place.
Schedule classes effectively
If you have the option to schedule your own college classes, make sure you do it strategically.
For example, schedule your classes back-to-back or in blocks instead of scattered throughout the day. This way, you will be able to get your classes done and head home for the day instead of having to commute back and forth between classes.
Students can also take advantage of online classes if they have a particularly busy semester. While online classes often require just as much study time as in-seat classes, students can access the online modules during their own time or on weekends.
Wake up early
Most students lament that they don’t have enough time for themselves in college. However, waking up early could be the time-saving hack they never knew they had!
By waking up just one hour earlier than you usually would, you’d have an extra hour at your disposal to do whatever you want – exercise, eat a proper breakfast, do some revision, or just read a book.
Of course, to wake up earlier, you need to go to bed earlier. This also goes hand-in-hand with another important tip for students – get a good night’s sleep!
When you sleep well, you’ll be well-rested the next day, meaning you will use your time effectively, be better engaged in class, and your mind will be more alert when you study.
Prepare the night before
To save time the next morning, prepare as much as you can the night before. Pack your school bag with your notes, books, laptop, and whatever else you need for the day before.
You can also pick your outfit the night before, wash your hair, prepare your meals in advance, do your dishes/laundry or any other chore, to free up some time in an anticipated busy day.
Distractions are probably the biggest time-sucker for a college student, so learning how to identify them can really save you some valuable time.
If you find that being around friends or roommates causes you to take frequent breaks and put less focus into your studies, do your work in the library instead of at home.
If Facebook and Netflix are causing you to get easily distracted, use an app like ClearLock or Self-Control, which block distracting websites for a period of time.
By limiting or eliminating time-wasting distractions, you’d be able to complete your tasks quickly and have more time to relax or have some fun.
Ask for help
If you’re finding a particular concept or subject too challenging, getting help may save you time mastering it.
Instead of wasting hours poring over the material and cracking your head, try joining a study group, or seeking help from your peers or professor.
By discussing things with them, you might get the answers quicker than if you tried to tackle them yourself.
Do you often find yourself feeling motivated with a daily plan, only to watch it fall to pieces when everything goes off schedule?
Set reminders or alarms to help you stay on track so your schedule is not going wayward. For example, if you’ve set aside an hour for dinner before you start a study session, set an alarm that will remind you when the time is up.
That way, you will stick to your schedule instead of veering off-course because you weren’t paying attention to the time.
Prioritise extracurricular activities
Social activities and taking part in student affairs are an important part of a college experience, but it’s also important to make sure they’re not taking too much of your time.
You might have several interests and want to to be involved in a variety of activities, but there just may not be enough hours in a day for all of that. Make sure that meetings and other activities are not going to get in the way of your personal goals and studies.
Prioritise what you want to get involved in, and ask yourself if they will really be of value to your future. You can always hold off joining a particular association when you have a less intense semester instead of trying to fit too much into one semester.
The smallest of things can make a huge difference, so try these hacks and see if you have a more productive semester!