by Purdue Global
Time is a finite resource. By planning ahead and using your time wisely, you’ll be able to accomplish more and enjoy added free time.
Follow these seven time management tips and strategies to ensure that you meet deadlines, are well prepared for tests and assignments, and have time to relax. Check out the apps too!1. Identify Time-Wasters and Set Goals
It’s easy to get distracted. Pay attention to what draws your focus away from your studies and assignments.
- Are you spending too much time checking social media?
- Are you prone to texting and answering personal phone calls while studying?
- Do you find that a lot of time has passed while you aimlessly browse the web?
No matter what is wasting your time, set a goal to not engage in that behavior during dedicated study time. Instead, use those activities as a reward for staying focused and accomplishing the tasks you set out to complete.
2. Plan Ahead by Creating a To-Do List
Identify what you need to do, and then prioritize the tasks based on when the assignment is due and how much time you need to complete it. This gives you a set plan for the day. Whether it’s just a list of priorities or a full schedule for the day, having a plan will ensure that you know what to do and when.
Unless there’s a pressing priority, it’s important to also consider what sort of work you’re in the mood to do.
- Do you feel creative? You may want to prioritize working on a writing assignment.
- Do you feel focused? You could spend the day studying for an upcoming exam.
3. Tackle Small Tasks to Start
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by large projects and big exams, and the anxiety can make you want to procrastinate. Start with shorter, simpler to-do items and then move on to larger projects or assignments.
- What can you complete in the shortest time and has the fewest dependencies?
- What needs more time or has more complicated workflows?
4. Only Do One Thing at a Time
A University of London study showed that those who multitask see a drop in their IQ similar to someone who didn’t sleep the night before. If you’re trying to juggle multiple assignments and tasks, you’ll likely end up being less productive. To combat the urge to multitask, ask yourself:
- What are your most common distractions? (Email, social media, electronics, etc.)
- Can you turn off the devices or applications?
Turn off any devices that you can. And no matter what, don’t switch to another task until the one before it is complete. This may be a hard habit to break, but it’s worth it.
5. Establish Routines
A set routine can also help you accomplish the things you need to do. Is your best time to study immediately after school or after taking a break? You may want to get in the habit of regularly using that time to study or read. The more often you do this, the less you’ll have to think about when you’ll accomplish the tasks you need to finish that day.
6. Use Breaks Wisely
People who use the Pomodoro Technique, developed in the 1990s, study in short intervals and take short, regular, timed breaks or “Pomodoros.” For example, you might use a timer to work in 25-minute sprints, broken up by 5-minute breaks away from your workspace. Every fourth Pomodoro, take a longer break.
7. Take Time Off
It’s important to take time for yourself. Long study sessions or chunks of time working on assignments should be broken up with time away from screens or textbooks. You need to give your mind a rest.
Many scholars have studied the effects of meditation on reducing effects of stress-induced conditions such as back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia. The National Institutes of Health gathered these studies and published them in “Meditation: In Depth,” which includes one study that suggests meditation makes the brain’s ability to process information more efficient.
Check Out These Additional Time Management Resources
To create and manage lists:
- Any.do–This easy-to-use mobile app keeps your to-do lists and calendar in one central location and syncs between devices and platforms.
- Remember the Milk–This is another fun mobile app that helps you manage to-do lists across multiple devices and users
To increase productivity:
- RescueTime–This app runs in the background of your desktop computer or smartphone, tracking how much time you spend on various sites and apps, and then provides a detailed report on where you spent your time. Use this information to tweak your browsing habits and work more efficiently.
- Toggl–Use this free web-based time-tracking app to create tasks and then track the time you spend on them, so you can see where your time is going and adjust if needed.
- Freedom–Reduce distractions and improve productivity with this app that blocks websites and apps on your smartphone or desktop computer.
To set goals:
- Learn how to set SMART goals—those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Learn more about goal setting from The Balance.