Time Management and You

Now that we’ve made you aware of what long-term stress is doing to you, what are you going to do about it?

You can start by evaluating your time management skills. It seems that students are always panicking at the last minute to finish a homework assignment, or to finish a paper, or to study for a test. Why is that?

Procrastination by Clownhair MaGee licensed under CC BY 2.0
Procrastination by Clownhair MaGee licensed under CC BY 2.0

We can’t prevent you from procrastinating, but we can go over a few helpful steps that will save you a lot of headache later. Let’s get started.

Read. Your. SYLLABUS.

Your professors don’t spend hours creating a syllabus for nothing. Your course syllabus is the key to your success in any class. Reading over and getting to know your syllabus now can save you a lot of heartache later, especially in regards to large projects and sneaky little homework assignments. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice by tossing it in the garbage, or by relegating it to the back of your notebook.

The calendar is your friend

Scheduling problems can be solved by using a calendar. Any calendar will work, as long as you update it regularly, and you actually use it (digital calendars are great for this).

At the beginning of the semester enter your class schedule, your work schedule, and scheduled club meetings into your calendar. Also enter the dates of big projects and papers, and any other assignments you have. You can also turn on reminders to give you notifications a day/week/month before something is due.

Once you’ve set up your calendar, you can spot scheduling conflicts before they happen. Your friend asked you to help set up for his club’s giant BBQ-concert-bonanza the night before a big test? It might be a good idea to turn him down.

While you’re getting your work and school schedules in order, it’s also a good idea to schedule time for yourself.  Don’t fill your days and nights with so much that you can’t eat meals, get adequate sleep, or even keep up with regular hygiene.  Make sure you leave time available for dinner, for hanging out with friends, and for sleeping. And it’s perfectly fine to make sure you have a free hour on Sunday evenings to watch The Walking Dead.

Time to hit the books

Not literally. Credit: US Adult Literacy
Not literally.
Credit: US Adult Literacy

Okay, so you’ve put all of your assignments, meetings, and classes into your calendar. What now? Well, now it’s time to do the work.

Yeah, we know. You “know” how to study. You’re a pro! So, why were you panicking and hiding in that cubicle on the fourth floor at the end of last semester? We’ve got your number buster, and we’re here to show you a better way:

  • Don’t try to study in huge chunks of time because it’s not effective. Breaks are perfectly acceptable, and even good for you! Try to aim for 50 minutes of studying, followed by a 10-15 minute break. If you have problems keeping your “breaks” from turning into “stops,” set an alarm to remind you that your 15 minutes are up.
  • When you take a break, get up and move around. Do some sun salutations, jumping jacks, take a walk around your building, or just bounce around the room.
  • Turn your phone off entirely, or at least turn off incoming notifications to help eliminate distractions. You can’t have it during your exams, so why do you need it while you’re studying?
  • Label your notes with things like “Exam 1” or “Topic X” for easy searching. Spend less time shuffling paper and more time studying.
  • Though it looked at high school students, we feel that this study is still applicable to Florida Tech students. Cramming: not even once.

The overall message here? Study throughout the semester in small bits, instead of waiting until the night before an exam. Use the tools at your disposal to plan for large assignments, and break projects down into smaller parts to make them more manageable. Waiting until the week (or night) before an assignment is due to begin your work is a recipe for disaster. If you plan ahead and manage your time, you can have a much more relaxing semester.


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