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Unlike high school where teachers frequently structured your assignments and classes filled your day, in college, you will have less in-class time, more outside of class work, and a great deal of freedom and flexibility. Studies show that poor use of time, not lack of intelligence, is the leading cause of poor academic performance. Students who don't succeed either invest too little time in their studies, or invest their time in ineffective and outdated study strategies.
How to Manage Time and Set Priorities:
What Are the 3 Rules for Effective Time Management?
- Don't Create Impossible Situations. Don't get trapped into doing too much. Don't try to work full time and take a full load. Don't take too many lab classes. Use time to create success, not failure. Be realistic about school. For most classes, plan to study 2 hours for every 1 hour of class. Make time your friend not your enemy. Identify your first priority classes and do whatever it takes to succeed. Drop second priority classes or reduce work hours if necessary.
- Define Your Priorities Using the 3-List Method. All time management begins with planning. Use lists to set priorities, plan activities and measure progress. One approach is the 3-list method.
List #1 - The weekly calendar.
Create a weekly calendar. Make it your basic time budgeting guide. List your courses, work, study time, recreation, meals, TV, relaxation, etc. Plan to study first priority classes when you work best. Be flexible, adapt your schedule to changing needs. Keep your schedule handy and refer to it often. If it doesn't work, change it.
List #2 - The daily "Things to Do".
Write down all the things that you want to do today. Note homework due or tests or subjects you want to emphasize. Include shopping and personal calls, etc. This list is a reminder. Use it to set daily priorities and to reduce decision-making and worry. If time is tight, move items to your long-term list. Rewrite this list each morning. Use visualization to help you focus on what to do. This list is also a measure of your day-to-day success. Check off items as you finish them and praise yourself for each accomplishment.
List #3 - Goals and other things.
This can be one or two lists, a monthly list and or a long-term list. Put down your goals and things you have to do. What do you want to accomplish over the next month or year? What do you need to buy? Use this list to keep track of all your commitments. If you're worried about something, put it on this list. The purpose of this list is to develop long-term goals and to free your mind to concentrate on today.
- Avoid Distractions and Lack of Focus.
Time is precious. Yet many people waste time by getting stuck in one or more of the following habits.
a. Procrastination - putting off important jobs.
b. Crises management - being overwhelmed by the current crisis. No time for routine matters.
c. Switching and floundering - lack of concentration and focus on one job.
d. Television, telephones and friends - these are all ways of avoiding work.
e. Emotional blocks - boredom, daydreaming, stress, guilt, anger and frustration reduce concentration.
f. Sickness - getting sick and blowing your schedule.
In all of these cases, the first step is to recognize the problem and resolve to improve. Use priority lists to focus attention. Try positive self-talk. To avoid distractions, find a quiet place to study, the library or a study hall. Get an answering machine.
Copyright 1991 Donald Martin, How to be a Successful Student
Time Management for College Students
Tara Kuther, Ph.D., about.com
Tara Kuther is an associate professor of developmental psychology and author of Graduate Study in Psychology: Your Guide to Success, The Psychology Major's Handbook, Careers in Psychology: Opportunities in a Changing World, Your Career in Psychology: Psychology and Law, as well as several other books.
One of the first things that college students learn is that there is never enough time in the day. How can you keep yourself sane when you're overloaded with courses, research, teaching, and a life? Try using time management techniques to get organized. Time management simply involves considering your obligations and making choices about how to use your time. Here are some tips:
Use a school planner or calendar with plenty of space to record assignments, lists, and appointments.
Take the time to plan and organize. Take a few minutes every day to examine your calendar, note your upcoming assignments, and update your lists.
- Break large assignments and tasks into their component parts. For example, break a term paper into many smaller and more manageable tasks such as finding a topic, conducting literature searches, gathering articles and books, reading and taking notes, writing an outline, writing the first draft, and revising.
- Make a list of all tasks required to complete a major assignment. You'll find that crossing items off of the list is quite rewarding!
Set goals and deadlines for yourself. For example, set realistic deadlines for each stage of completing a major assignment (e.g., term paper).
Prioritize your lists and tasks. Take the "big-picture" approach. Look over all that you need to complete and decide what's most important. Which assignment is due first? Which is the most difficult?
Be flexible. While daily to-do lists are wonderful for helping you to organize and prioritize your life, remember that there will always be interruptions and distractions. Try to allow time for them.
Go with your flow. Think about your biological peaks and lows. Are you a morning person? Or are you at your best at night? Plan your day accordingly. Save your most difficult work for the times when you're at your best.
Say "No." Sometimes we take on too much. Whether it's extra courses, job responsibilities, or extracurricular activities, consider how important each is to you before agreeing.
Make use of wasted time. Have you ever noticed how much time you spend standing in lines and waiting?
- Carry pocket work to make use of that time that would otherwise be wasted.
- Carry a short reading assignment or flash cards for studying. Or use the time to write in your planner and organize yourself. Ten minutes here, fifteen minutes later, it all adds up and you'll find that you can get more done.
Study Tips: Learn How You Learn
Christine O'Leary-Rockey & Tara Kuther, Ph.D., about.com
Many students don't realize that college success is not necessarily a matter of how much they study but how well. One of the best ways to study more efficiently (and thereby succeed in college) is to learn how you learn. What learning style do you have? Tailor your studying to fit your style.
Learn How You Learn
No two students are alike; however, there are a few consistent styles of learning. Once you've identified your style, you can then begin to adjust your study habits to suit your needs.
Audial learners often don't take notes in class because they remember everything that the prof says.
Audial Learner Strategies:
- Tape your classes. Few professors mind having their lectures tape recorded, and a taped copy of a lecture often helps you keep track of details you may otherwise not have had a chance to pen.
- Study with a partner, a friend, a spouse, or another classmate. Don't just spit facts back and forth. Discuss the issues that you see, take it apart, challenge each other to understand what's important.
Visual learners thrive on books and often take meticulous notes, but don't retain spoken information unless they jot it down. They can often discuss the subject matter fluidly, but may prefer not to think about more difficult concepts or ideas before they've worked through it on paper. A visual learner will generally remember what they've learned, but may get bored or have trouble following a conversation if it gets too involved or too long.
Strategies for Visual Learners:
- Read. Read. Read. Take precise notes. If it's rote information, recopy your material by hand to assist you in retaining it. If it's a tough concept that your working on, write a brief paragraph for yourself and think through it with a pen in hand.
- Don't limit yourself to writing only the specific information, but explore what questions you have, even writing down if you disagree with some part of the topic and why.
- Manual Learner Face it, some of us don't get it if we don't DO it. Hands-on is the only way to retain some things for you, and studying pure theory can seem impractical. But this is graduate school! How can you survive if you don't read?
Strategies for Manual Learners:
- Before you panic and think that you're relegated to the field of welding, think about what it is about your particular field that you plan on working with, and look at how to actually do it. This can be done in any field- from Humanities to Business.
- Co-ops and internships are excellent places to start and can lead to wonderful opportunities. Interview with potential employers or functionaries in the field.
- Don't limit yourself to what you do in classes, but step outside of the class room environment and bring your studies to life through volunteer jobs, and experiencing the world.