Shepard Freshman Resource Center: Tips for Time Management
A successful academic semester is the result of a well-developed schedule that considers long term and short term goals. A good schedule includes four activities every day: sleeping, eating, studying (in and out of class), and leisure time (including exercise).
If you do too much of one of these and skip another, your schedule will be unbalanced. When this happens, you end up being less productive in the things you do choose to do. In fact, most freshmen site poor time management as the number one reason they fail to achieve at least a "C" average their first semester at college. Organize yourself and manage your time effectively to meet your own needs and adapt to your own strengths. Use the time at which you are most effective in studying. Everyone has a different cycle for sleeping, eating, studying, and leisure time. You need to develop your own schedule, and stick to it.
It is a good idea to have several schedules:
- For the semester: At the beginning of the semester, post an academic calendar in a visible place (above your desk, for example) that includes dates when you have tests, papers due, and final exams. (Most professors give these dates on a syllabus they hand out at the beginning of the semester.) This will make you aware of deadlines and prepare you for the weeks when you have many things scheduled. Using colored pens on the calendar for different classes or activities can be an added help.
- For the week: Have a consistent weekly schedule that lists class times, study times, and activity time (for exercise or your favorite TV show). You might also develop a weekly "to do" list, noting what needs to be done for the week after consulting your class syllabi and adding personal and social goals. This will prevent you from getting behind in any of your courses and help you to keep a balanced schedule.
- For the day: Some people find it helpful to write a daily list of homework to do, places to go, and people to call or visit. Your weekly "to do" list can be easily converted into a daily schedule.
When developing your personal schedule, keep two things in mind:
- Keep schedules flexible: Be prepared for unexpected things like a date, an illness, a TV movie, or a project that simply takes longer than expected.
- Consider others: Everyone has different cycles, so no two schedules will be exactly the same. Realize that your schedule will affect others, especially your roommate. It’s critical to communicate with each other and be willing to accept and accommodate differences.
For more information about time management, visit the Health Center’s Learning Assistance Program.