by: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader
Oftentimes, when asked about what our skills are, we say we are good at time management. For many of us, this may be a blatant lie, and we are aware that this is a skill we need to work on. So, how do we get better at managing our time? Once again, I think most of us are aware of the obvious answer. The answer is to make a schedule (and then actually stick to it!).
Before we get to the actual schedule-making, here are some things to recognize if you are looking to improve your time management
- Your schedule is based on your priorities. Before you make your schedule, you need to know your priorities. Are you an athlete that needs to make it to practice on time? Is piano important to you,and you have to make sure you attend your daily piano classes? Do you prioritize sleep and your health?
- Once you’ve made your schedule, although you need to use the schedule, you are not confined to the schedule! You can still go out with friends even it is not on your schedule. You can still go to bed earlier if you feel sick or tired.
Now to the schedule-making! We are going to skip forward to after you have made your class schedule. Remember that your class schedule was already built around your main priorities (i.e sports practice, work, etc). Now, I encourage you to print out a 24-hour schedule sheet so you can write on it. If you are tech-savvy you can do this online if you prefer.
Here is a template you can use:
First, add on those top priorities For example, write in when you have practice and/or when you have work. Next, add in any extracurriculars. What days and times are club meetings? Then, you can add in what times you are going to exercise. If you like, you can block out times to eat as well.
Finally, the most important part! Sleep! Block out when you’re going to sleep! I am legally obligated (not really! I’m just kidding!) to encourage you to get a full 8 hours of sleep every night. Realistically, as we know, that is nearly impossible for college students. So instead, I recommend you choose a minimum number of hours of sleep and a strict absolutely must-go-to-bed-by time. This may change depending on the day. For example, I make sure to get at least 5 hours of sleep each night. If I have to get up at 6:00 am on a certain day of the week, I only allow myself to stay up until 1:00 am (although I usually try to be in bed by midnight). If I have to get up at 7:00 am, I can stay up studying until 3 am at maximum (this rarely happens though since I value my sleep). You may choose to plan for 7 or 8 hours a night (good job!), however, I implore you to not try and get by with 4 hours or less of sleep. Coffee and energy drinks can only take you so far. If you don’t get enough sleep it takes a toll on both your body and mind and your body will eventually crash and burn.
Here is a sample schedule:
Now, your general schedule is built! You may choose to add specific times to study, or you may not. Building your schedule was one step toward better managing your time. The next step is figuring out what goes in the blanks of your schedule. That is, when you have time in between items, what are you doing? For example, if you have two hours in between classes (and this block of time isn’t the scheduled time for exercise) what do you choose to do? Do you take a break and watch Netflix? Do you choose to do homework/study? And most importantly, which homework do you do? Do you work on a project that is due in a week or do you do your homework that is due in 2 days? The choice may seem obvious when stated with the deadlines but often you may not be aware of the deadlines until they sneak up on you. I am a strong advocate for turning in assignments on time!! Getting a few points taken off may not seem like a big deal but those little points add up fast if you make a habit of turning assignments in late.
To organize your to-do list and make sure you complete your work on time, I highly suggest using a planner/agenda book. This allows you to see when everything is due and what events you have, and thus be able to prioritize your actions. In your planner, write the deadlines of assignments. Add in the dates when you have tests and quizzes. Then, and this is the important part, write in when you are going to work on that assignment or study for that quiz. For example, as shown in the photo below, I write that my quiz is on Wednesday and that I am going to study for it on Tuesday. I write that my Biostatistics homework is due on Thursday, and I am most likely going to do it on Wednesday. If there is time before then, I can do the Biostatistics homework before Wednesday. However, this makes me at least aware of my deadlines and keeps me on track. Another example is that I have to fill out a form by a certain date so I write when it is due and when I plan to fill out the form. Additionally, I have events in my planner such as when the Pre-Med E-board meeting is, as well as work to do for the club. Essentially, no task is too small to not be included in your planner. For instance, I also include reminders to email a professor or to post a reminder about a club event on Instagram.
If you truly make a schedule, stick to it and utilize your planner, you are almost guaranteed to be much better at managing your time (Source: Trust me, bro). So, if you do not already have a planner, go out and buy one! Start organizing your time and be more productive!