It’s almost October, and many of you have established a solid routine for the school year. But some of you may still be trying to develop a plan for managing your time effectively. Read tips and tricks from some of the Student Success Center’s academic coaches about time management. You may not need to use every technique, but you can pick and choose the ones that work for you.
Begin your day by planning your day
Take 15–30 minutes to plan out what you need to accomplish during the day ahead and set very specific goals for yourself. Scheduling time to schedule time may sound silly, but you will find it infinitely valuable when all your tasks are done for the day.
“Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish with this time? What do I want to learn?” and then go do that. Setting specific goals for your study time helps you to stay engaged and on-task,” said academic coach Brennen Salmon.
It may be hard, but you must prioritize the most important tasks. As a student, school normally comes first, so if this means declining other time-consuming activities, you may have to make that hard choice. However, if you engage in good time-management practices, you may not have to make this choice as often.
“There is no worse feeling than hanging out with friends and knowing in the back of your mind you should be doing work,” said academic coach Jenny Ludwig. “My biggest suggestion to students is to treat school like it is your daytime job. Come a little early and don’t leave right after your classes are over; get the work done while you’re here and already focused on classes. If you put the work in during the day, your evenings can often then be used to relax or have fun without the stress of knowing you haven’t finished all of your work.”
Start with a few small tasks
Completing several small tasks to begin with gives you a sense of accomplishment. It will also put you into a ‘getting work done’ frame of mind and generally leads to more productivity.
“A good strategy is to break large projects into smaller pieces. This makes the projects feel less overwhelming and provides a sense of control,” said academic coach Stephanie Weathers.
Devote your entire focus to the task at hand
Avoiding distractions while working will greatly improve efficiency. Turn your phone on do-not-disturb mode, log out of your email, and avoid checking social media.
Organization is key
Organizing your tasks in to to-do lists or a planner will ensure that no task gets forgotten or skipped. Begin each semester by filling out a planner according to your syllabi. Utilizing a planner will allow you to mentally be aware of what tasks you’ll need to accomplish in the near future. Then create a weekly to-do list accordingly. You know checking off all the tasks on that to-do list feels so satisfying!
“Another good strategy is to write down a to-do list every day, and prioritize the items that are most important to complete by using an asterisks or by numbering the list,” said Weathers. “As you complete something on the to-do list, mark it off and feel that sense of satisfaction and increased motivation.”
Students procrastinate differently, but you’ve all experienced it in some way or another. Being overwhelmed by a huge assignment is normal, but putting it off until the last minute will not help your grade or sanity. Break it down into parts or just dive right in and go for it. The hardest part is getting started.
“Oftentimes, students have breaks between classes that are prime times to get work done, but they are not spending it productively,” said Ludwig. “Instead of going back to your room or watching Netflix, use your breaks between classes to find a quiet space on campus to work on homework and study.”
If all else fails, seek help!
UT has so many resources available to help you succeed. You can schedule an appointment with the Student Success Center, download UT’s semester-at-a-glance monthly planner and take advantage of your access to Lynda.com by watching informational videos such as this one or this one.