One wish that every college student has: a universal pause button. Clicking it will pause time itself, allowing you to work on your paper due hours from now, study enough for a big test, or just get some Z’s in. Why do college students want one? Because there is just not enough time in the world to finish all their papers.
Times like these are where time management is needed. It is a vital component of every college student: managing your time to make sure that all of your tasks are taken care of. The key principle here is efficiency, to finish as many tasks as possible within the shortest period of time. However, learning how to be efficient and, consequently, how to improve time management remains to be seen. With so little time, all we need right now are some time management tips to help us up.
For that reason, we put up a list of 10 time management tips for college students to make sure that you stay efficient and keep on ticking off each item on your to-do list—because it is about time that you ace this semester.
TIP #1: Set your mind straight
Before talking about the 10 time management tips for college students, let us go back to what time management is. The key to time management is efficiency, which is to do as many tasks as possible in the shortest amount of time. In essence, time management is about systematically maximizing your time by doing as many tasks as possible, as quick as possible. The point here: you can only do that with a clear mind.
The root word of “management” is “manage,” which is to be organized, in other words. But you cannot be organized if you, yourself, are not organized. To be clear, what is being meant here is the mindset—because it all begins from the mind. You cannot do something well if you do not set your mind into it: the first vital lesson in the 10 time management tips for college students listed here. This becomes apparent when you try to make a list but you just cannot wrap your head about what to put. The explanation? You feel burdened, bothered, overwhelmed by requirements—an unclear mind.
The simple solution is to relax, keep calm, take deep breaths, and look at the brighter side of life. You can manage your time and you can finish your requirements. This is the first and foremost of all the time management tips here, as this concerns your mental health. The saying goes: “mind over matter.” A sound mind leads to a sound body—to efficiency.
TIP #2: Have plenty of rest
Now, efficiency is not exactly without compromise. It will require some sacrifice on your part to achieve it fully. In particular, you need to use some time to get more time in the form of sleep.
There are probably some students who do have a full eight hours of sleep, just as many as there are people who barely have four. In any case, it is important to emphasize the value of sleep, as it allows people to focus better—but only if there is enough of it. HealthySleep, a small website managed by the medical school of Harvard University, presents a lot of vital information on sleep. Various research on the subject confirms one thing: lack of sleep gives people a hard time focusing and learning. Worse still is that it leads to students having a hard time staying awake in class.
When you have enough rest, you will get the focus and penchant for learning that are optimal to not only better work effectiveness but also efficiency—and better efficiency eventually translates to better time management. Of course, it stands to reason that you cannot just have one night of fourteen hours of sleep and get on with it. Here are some things you need to keep in mind with sleep:
- Follow a consistent sleep schedule. As said before, you cannot get a lot of sleep in one night then get a lot less in another. You need to set a determined sleep schedule which you have to follow consistently. According once more from HealthySleep, having a consistent sleep routine allows a person to be able to act out his tasks more efficiently due to his internal body clock being adjusted to his schedule. So, if you have a consistent sleep schedule, not only will you have energy but also a body that cooperates with you.
- Get high quality sleep. Long hours of sleep are not enough; you also need good sleep. This would mean sleeping in a comfortable bed, a dark, quiet room, away from any noise that might interfere with your sleep.
- Less siestas = more fiestas. “Wait, I thought we need more sleep!” Yes, napping does mean resting, and resting is what is being asked for here. The thing is, though, napping interferes with your internal body clock. Napping in the afternoon might lead to sleeping late at night, which might make you stray away from having a consistent sleep schedule.
TIP #3: Keep yourself hydrated and healthy
Along with proper sleep, you also need proper nutrition and hydration. On the former: you need to have three full, balanced meals a day, which means breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, you have to eat each meal on a schedule. The same principle with sleep reigns over eating: your body follows its own clock, which you can adjust. If you eat at random times, your body will be confused—or, at the very least, it will not function as well as a body that received nutrition in a consistent, routinely basis. The benefit of eating on a schedule: your body knows when to receive energy and when to give energy.
More importantly, stay away from just eating a random bag of chips for breakfast or a Starbucks Chai Latte for lunch. These alone are not nutritious. Again, always strive for a balanced meal. This means eating foods that are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats: bread, lean meat, whole milk, oatmeal, and so on. For the majority of college students, however, consistently having balanced meals everyday can be difficult, especially for dormers on a budget. If you are a college student looking for a helpful guide on healthy meals, here is a guide on the best college dorm meals.
When it comes to hydration, it is a pretty clear-cut fact that everyone needs water, so the only thing that needs to be known here is drink enough. The common thought that “drinking eight glasses of water is enough” goes here, though it actually depends on the body of each person. The rule of thumb would be to drink a glass of water every hour, for good measure.
Just as with nutrition, you should stay away from drinks that, though they hydrate, do more harm than good. Drinking too much sugary drinks such as softdrinks and juice can, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, while too much alcohol can lead to liver disease and heart disease—among many other health risks—according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on their website. Ultimately, you cannot go wrong with water.
Once you follow time management tips 1-3, you can finally have your mind and body equipped to be efficient and prepared to do the practical aspects of how to improve time management.
TIP #4: Write down your schedule
This marks the beginning of the practical aspect of the 10 time management tips for college students here: knowing how much time you usually have. To start, you have to write down your schedule, factoring the following items:
- Times of classes - Consider all of your classes throughout the entire week, their specific times of the day, etc.
- Sleep schedule - This is assuming you have established and been following one.
- Mealtime - On average, a meal should take you around 10 minutes to finish. Remember, however, that you will need time to prepare the meals, which may take 30 minutes, more or less.
- Other routine items - Taking a shower, cleaning your room, and other things that you do everyday are also considered.
- Other commitments - Got a part-time job in the local retail store in the weekends? Or other professional or social events every weekend?
This, in itself, is already managing your time: you are setting, exactly, what is happening at certain times and at certain days. Furthermore, once you write down your schedule, you should have a more realistic view of how much time you have—and how much you will manage. In addition, taking note of the schedule is tremendously useful for working students to figure out how to balance work and college.
As a whole, having a schedule ready is one of the first steps of being organized, which is one of the most vital time management skills.
TIP #5: Determine your goals
After writing down your schedule, you have to set your goals straight: what do you need to do? Requirements, deadlines, assignments, other things that you have to accomplish? Certainly, there are some things that you need to work on. Most of all, you have to estimate how much time you are going to set aside for each of these tasks.
This is where you have to perform a priority check: what things need to be done first? The next episode of your favorite Netflix show, or your paper due tomorrow? When it comes to determining your goals as you manage your time, it is important to know which things need to be done first. Surely, you would go for Netflix after you finish the paper.
TIP #6: Make a to-do list everyday
A to-do list is a checklist of what you have to do for each day. This is a basic guide that allows you to know what to do next or—in case you forget—whether there is something next to do at all. As with what was said in tip #5, your to-do list should be based on the priorities that you set. So, top-priority items should be done first, while low-priority items should be at the bottom of the list.
From this tip, you also learn two more time management skills: consistency and discipline. It is not enough that you just make a to-do list everyday; you have to follow each one, too—consistently. After a while, making a to-do list becomes something that seems so tedious that we are tempted to stop doing it and just try to remember what we are supposed to do. Do not fall victim to that temptation. If you feel like you are about to, try to recall the times when you failed to remember doing a task when you were making consistently making to-do lists. You cannot? That is exactly the point.
TIP #7: Set routine alarms
Sometimes, no matter how hard-bent we are in trying to manage our time, we forget our routine—and it is all right. Yes, our memorization skills can be enhanced, but not to the point of complete perfection. When we do forget to do some important things, it is best to set alarms, an absolute must-have in college. Every phone has a built-in clock app that allows you to set multiple alarms in certain times.
In this case, you have to set alarms for routine items. Alarms for waking up is a no-brainer, but you should also have alarms for reminding you when you need to sleep, when you have to prepare and eat breakfast, and so on. Make sure that you set them properly, too! Your wake-me-up alarm might go off one morning and not at all on the next, making you miss an important class. At the same time, you do not want a routine alarm to go off during class. Your professor might get annoyed at you.
TIP #8: Set contingent alarms
Just as you need alarms for your routine, you also need alarms for short-term tasks, such as when your mother asks you to call at a specific time, or when you need to go to a doctor’s appointment. Of course, since these are “contingent,” they only need to go off once. After the task is over, they must be deleted right away to de-clutter your alarm app.
For best effect, set three alarms for contingent tasks: the first to remind you an hour before, the second ten minutes before, and the last one a minute before. That way, you will always be reminded, no matter what.
TIP #9: Ask a friend for help
If all else fails, ask a friend. Your friends are always willing to help you during times of need. So, if you happen to consistently forget the things you planned to manage your time, or have a difficult time on how to improve time management as a whole, having a friend by your side can go a long way.
TIP #10: Motivate yourself everyday
Take note of this one, as this is one of the most important time management tips: time management is not an overnight success—it is a consistent effort. It is true that there are some things that will become second-nature once they are done enough times. Still, it is best not to become too comfortable to the point of losing track of how you manage your time.
The worst part is when, after so much effort put into time management, you lose the motivation to keep track of time that you break down your personal system. Motivation is not, exactly, listed as one of the time management skills, but it is a crucial component. If you feel like you are on the verge of doing so, remind yourself of the benefits that you reaped from proper time management: you were able to get a lot of things done, done. When you realize how much your time management has done for you, you should be able to keep yourself on track of your time management plans.
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